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City-parish parking lot targeted by thieves in latest mass theft of catalytic converters

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BATON ROUGE – A handful of government vehicles were towed to repair shops Wednesday after being hit by catalytic converter thieves.

The thefts appear to have happened in the last few days.  Just shy of a dozen East Baton Rouge Parish government vehicles, including pickups, were targeted.  Some of the vehicles were assigned to the Department of Public Works.

Law enforcement has been trying to dismantle a catalytic converter theft ring in Baton Rouge for weeks.  Last week, a suspect who seemed to be the ringleader was arrested in a high-profile bust.  Just this week, a third person was arrested in connection with the case.

Thieves shimmy under vehicles, cut the catalytic converter and part of the exhaust system from the undercarriage and make off with valuable metals.  The stolen material is usually sold.

Repair shop owners estimate thieves can pocket up to $300 on each converter they sell. Costs to replace stolen catalytic converters can range between $2,000 to $3,000.

In the case involving the city-parish vehicles, authorities said nine were targeted at the DPW North Lot on Main Street in Baker.  Detectives said the parking lot is fenced but is easily accessible.  There were no security cameras.

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