CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Bridgeport police search for U-Haul catalytic converter thieves

Security cameras captured three people as they stole catalytic converters from 15 trucks and vans at the U-Haul on Boston Avenue in Bridgeport early Monday morning. Bridgeport police have released the footage in hopes the public can identify the suspects.
“They made quick work of removing the catalytic converters by sliding underneath the vehicles, using power tools, and they were gone as quickly as they got there,” said Sgt. Christine Burns.
The thieves were in a gray Nissan Rogue bearing stolen Connecticut registration AB 83030. It's yet another incident of a crime that has skyrocketed in the past few years. Recently, our area has seen school bus yards, a senior center and nonprofits all affected by these thefts.
“This is regionwide; this is countrywide,” Burns explained. “No one is immune. It can happen any day any time.”
A U-Haul employee told News 12 when he arrived at work Monday morning, he started up one of the vehicles and head a loud roaring noise. He said he immediately knew what it was and immediately checked the rest of the fleet to see what the total damage was.
Catalytic converters are loaded with platinum, palladium and rhodium, so they're an expensive commodity.
“A stolen catalytic converter can yield somebody between $25 and $500 whereas it’ll cost an owner upwards of $3,000 to replace,” said Burns.
In July, a law went into effect in Connecticut to try and make it harder for catalytic converter thieves to profit. Scrapyards can now only accept one catalytic converter per person per day. Dealers must also pay by check and fully document the sale, including the seller’s license and license plate. It's too early to know if the law is helping, but one concern is thieves can just cross state lines to sell. Another is those who aren’t stealing for the scrap metal.
“Catalytic converters can be used again if taken off properly, and the theft the other night, they were cleanly removed,” Burns told News 12.
She also reminded people not to intervene if they witness a theft in progress. It comes after a Milford man was attacked with a Sawzall and needed more than 300 stitches after confronting catalytic converter thieves in his driveway. Another incident in Milford ended with a witness’s arm cut up.
“It’s never a good idea when you see something like this happening to handle the situation on your own. The best thing to do is try to get a suspect description, suspect vehicle description, a plate number, if you’re at a distance, a photograph or video, and call police so we can handle it,” Burns said.
Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact Detective Kateema Riettie at 203-581-5253 or call the anonymous tips line at 203-576-TIPS.