Catalytic Conveter Thefts Are An “Epidemic” As 30 Cars In South Brunswick Targeted

June 1, 2023-UPDATED

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–South Brunswick Police are asking the public to be alert for an increasing number of catalytic converter thefts during the overnight hours in the Township. Chief Raymond Hayducka said, “The catalytic converter problem in New Jersey is at epidemic levels. We are partnering with county and State law enforcement to track these suspects, but there are multiple crews operating throughout the state.” The crews have intensified their recent efforts in southern Middlesex County with 29 thefts in South Brunswick since May 21st.

Catalytic converters look like a metal hot water bottle, are found in the car’s underbody, and are part of its exhaust system. The magic ingredients of that chemical catalyst are the precious metals rhodium, palladium, and platinum. Each converter contains several grams of each metal and is sold to unscrupulous scrap yards. The converters can be clipped off a car in minutes. Chief Hayducka is frustrated by the Scrap yards throughout the tri-state area that buy these converters. “No legitimate business is having some walking in at 6 am with a trunk full of catalytic converters and thinks this is legitimate,” said Chief Hayducka.

Captain Jeff Russo, the head of the South Brunswick Police Criminal Investigations Division said, “We have been sharing information with detectives throughout the area. The majority of thefts take place overnight between 11 pm to 5 am. The most common vehicle they target is Hondas.”

South Brunswick Police have twice encountered the suspects. Each time the suspects fled police at high rates of speed and created a wide risk to the public. “These suspects have no concern for public safety and will recklessly endanger everyone for a few hundred dollars,” said Chief Hayducka.

They have targeted residential sections throughout the township during the overnight. “I encourage every resident to call 911 at the first sign of any problems. Residents have already made a number of calls and we have created saturation patrols to increase our detection. There is no one answer to the problem, but collectively we make a difference,” said Chief Hayducka.

Yesterday Chesterfield Township Police also issued a Crime Alert in their community due to a large amount of catalytic converters being stolen. You can read that story here:

File photo from 2022 raids in New Jersey

File photos from last year’s “Operation Heavy Metal” where on Wednesday November 2, 2022 though Monmouth and Burlington Counties in New Jersey and New York, as part of a nation-wide operation to take down a transnational catalytic converter theft ring. The HSI enforcement operation which included the Newark Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), the HSI Tulsa field office, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Newark field office, and others from numerous state and local law enforcement partners, resulted in the apprehension of 6 individuals in Newark, 2 individuals in New York and confiscated more than 200 pallets of catalytic converters, more than $2 Million worth of exotic automobiles, and more than $1 Million in U.S. currency, 29 ounces of gold bars, jewelry, and several high-value handbags.