A recent rash of thefts from parked cars has been occurring around Rome recently, but it hasn’t exactly been traditional vehicle break-ins.
Catalytic converters have been coming up missing from parked vehicles throughout town in recent weeks, and it can be a costly repair.
“It has been an issue for us lately,” Rome Police Department Assistant Chief Debbie Burnett said. “The county had a problem last year and we have had problems the past few months.”
A government mandated part of nearly every late-model gas and diesel burning engine’s exhaust system, a catalytic converter is supposed to help turn some toxic gases into less harmful fumes as they leave a vehicle’s tailpipe.
In order to work, converters are made with precious metals like palladium, platinum and rhodium, which can be sold to precious metal dealers.
Back in early October, a Floyd County business owner, Earl Lamar Renfroe Jr., was arrested and charged with felony theft by receiving stolen property as part of a multi-county investigation involving him and another man named Adam Dempsey, who said the two would choose businesses within a 100-mile radius of Rome to cut converters from. That investigation was handled in part by the Floyd County Police Department.
Several more converters have been stolen from vehicles, including those belonging to local businesses, since mid-October.
On Oct. 12, converters from a pair of vehicles parked at Busy B’s Boutique on Redmond Circle were reported stolen, then another reported Nov. 2 from an Allied Foods vehicle on Selman Road.
Another vehicle on Redmond Circle reportedly had the catalytic converter stolen from it Nov. 14, while another was reported stolen on Nov. 19 from a vehicle belonging to Blood Assurance on Shorter Avenue.
Then in early December the thefts started again with another from a vehicle on Shorter Avenue on Dec. 8, then several others cut from Freeman’s Auto Sales vehicles Dec. 15.
Thefts of converters continued with a converter stolen from a vehicle on the West Eighth Street parking deck of Floyd Medical Center.
On New Year’s Eve a maintenance man at Seven Hills Place Senior Living on Technology Parkway reported a company vehicle’s catalytic converter missing, and a Rome Public Works employee reported the same part stolen from a city-owned vehicle on Vaughn Road.
The converter thefts have already continued into 2021, with two more converters stolen from a vehicle on Howell Street and from several Phelps Transportation company vehicles. Both of those thefts were reported Jan. 4.
Anyone with information about the recent rash of catalytic converter thefts inside the city limits is asked to call 706-238-5111.