Catalytic converters stolen from dealerships

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More than 30 catalytic converters were stolen from beneath diesel trucks sitting in two local car dealership lots, and now the owner of those dealerships is offering a cash reward to information that leads to an arrest and a conviction.

Sometime between the close of business on Saturday and opening on Monday morning, someone took the catalytic converter exhaust systems  from 33 Ram diesel trucks, rendering each of them worthless until the part is replaced. The crooks caused approximately $250,000 in damage between the two dealerships.

Police on Tuesday said surveillance video from the Salem dealership shows two men driving an older model gray pickup truck who police want to question.

“They knew what they were doing and it was very precise and they hit us and they were out,” said John Kufleitner, president of Salem & Columbiana Chrysler-Jeep -Dodge. “The reason why they’re stealing these converters is there’s a little piece of platinum inside these converters, so they’re going to steal $250,000 worth of converters and exhaust systems to realize a $25,000 return. It’s just like someone going into a house and stealing copper.”

Kufleitner contacted his insurance company, and he will have to pay a hefty deductible. At the very least, he’s thankful these were “thoughtful thieves” who didn’t destroy the vehicles.

“Trust me it was a professional hit because they were gentlemen about it, at least they didn’t cut up everything and destroy my trucks. I mean, they took them off nice and neatly,” he said.

Kufleitner said he wants those responsible caught. There is a $10,000 cash reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

He said the Salem dealership has security cameras and those tapes have been turned over to the police. However, a new security system has not yet been installed at the Columbiana dealership.

Salem and Columbiana police are handling the investigation.

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