Cudahy car owner catches would-be catalytic converter thief on camera

A brazen thief tried cutting off a van's catalytic converter when the vehicle owner ran up -- capturing the act on cell phone video.

It happened in a Cudahy alley in broad daylight.

The owner saw the man on the ground under his car and, while filming, confronted the thief. Stunned, the thief took off -- but the owner was able to capture good images of him.

The encounter captured a distributing trend in catalytic converter thefts.

Owner catches criminal on camera during attempted catalytic converter theft

"Usually, they get the ones that are close to the ground," said Larry Rowell, owner of Hart Auto on Milwaukee's northwest side. "They can slide right underneath (the car) and cut (the catalytic converter) right off.

The car lot and auto repair shop not only fixes vehicles hit by criminals -- it has also targeted by them. Rowell said they have about one or two catalytic converter's stolen each month. 

"They’ll come here at night time, and they’ll jack up the car and take a power saw and they saw right through the exhaust pipe," Rowell said.

Catalytic converters

Milwaukee police say car part thefts are up. So far in 2021, there have been 322 incidents reported, compared to 295 in 2020.

It has left Rowell frustrated and more alert.

"You get mad," said Rowell.

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Others are left to do what they can to make sure criminals get caught.

At last check, the man captured on video in Cudahy had not been caught. If you recognize him, give Cudahy police a call.

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