A crime plaguing southern West Virginia may be on the rise again - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

A crime plaguing southern West Virginia may be on the rise again

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A crime plaguing Southern West Virginia a year ago might be on the rise again.

Two catalytic converters were stolen from vehicles outside the Exxon gas station in Ghent Tuesday.

"You would know instantly. Matter of fact, you wouldn't even put your car in gear before you know it's gone," said Bill Benemann, Southern Wheels mechanic.

But what makes a converter such a hot commodity?

"Because of the economy, people out of work, everybody's looking to make a quick buck. It is a very quick buck to make," Benemann said.

So just how quick of a buck is it? And how many bucks are we talking?

"Platinum is one of the most precious metal in there. Every car has one, some are larger than others. Some are more expensive than others. Here is where you run into the easy part, is getting them off."

Not only is it quick and easy to steal a catalytic converter, it's even quicker and easier to turn it around for fast cash.

"That's just how simple it is. I roll under your car, I'm there 3 minutes and I've made myself 100 bucks, 150 bucks or 200 bucks. If I don't get caught," he said.

Unfortunately the cost of replacing a converter, if stolen, is not cheap.

"The cost of replacement is a whole lot more than actually what they'll get out of them recycled," Benemann added.

He said replacing one will run anywhere from $200 to $800, and that's not even counting the cost of labor. But, speaking of getting it caught, lawmakers have recently made it easier to catch criminals.

Under last year's Senate Bill 528, any buyer or seller of a catalytic converter needs to show:

1) Proper Identification

2) Proof of Purchase 

3) If it involves 5 or more converters, you'll have to show your fingerprints.

State Police are investigating Tuesday's robbery.