Neighbors shocked at catalytic converter theft ring operating in upscale, gated community
BATON ROUGE – Alan Knight, the owner of Midas Car Repair on College Drive, installed a new catalytic converter on a car Friday after thieves struck.
“I’m probably averaging about five or six cars a week,” Knight said.
The mechanic and Baton Rouge Police began to notice an uptick in the thefts last year.
“This has been the first year I have seen this many converters coming in the shop,” Knight said.
Knight says the converters contain the precious metal palladium — a material used in computers that goes for almost $2,000 an ounce — yet the converters are easy to steal.
“Usually anyone can get underneath a car, and they can probably have them off within a minute or two minutes, and they’re gone,” Knight said. “It doesn’t take them very long.”
Matthew and Brooke Gibson were arrested at their Baton Rouge home Thursday, where police found more than 100 stolen catalytic converters.
“I was very surprised. They seemed like a nice couple,” neighbor Cindy Popasic said.
She lives right down the street from the Gibsons.
“Then I saw my neighbor in the back seat cuffed,” Popadic said. “I thought he was running a mechanic shop out of there because that’s what it looked like inside his garage. There were always cars there.”
Muffler shops and police say Thursday’s catalytic converter bust is just the tip of the iceberg. They expect to make more arrests in connection with the Gibsons’ operation, as well as stealing these precious auto parts.
Police believe the Gibsons were planning to take the stolen converters somewhere in Texas to sell them on the black market.
With supply chain issues, victims could have to wait for some time to receive a new converter.
“Right now, some catalytic converters are taking three to four months to come in,” Knight said.
The Gibsons remain in police custody as of Friday evening.