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11 Catalytic converters stolen on campus 

Photo credit: Cambrie Eckert

SUNY Brockport freshman Katelyn Cyganovich headed out to her car in Lot V1 to grab some lunch on Oct. 2 when she noticed something was wrong.  

“I noticed something was off when I went to turn on my car Monday (Oct. 2), and it made a noise that it doesn’t normally make,” Cyganovich said. “I had my grandpa come look at it since he knows cars. He got under it and looked, and there was rust underneath the car. It must’ve fallen when they cut the catalytic converter off. I had left my car for about a week before I found out so I’m not sure when it was stolen.” 

According to SUNY Brockport’s Chief of University Police (UP) Daniel Vasile, there are three signs that a catalytic converter has been stolen from a car. 

“Typically, if you start your car, it’s going to be very loud without a catalytic converter because it’s part of your exhaust system,” Vasile said. “Another sign would probably be the exhaust fumes, maybe a stronger smell. I would say lastly, your engine light could come on, due to the sensors in the converter or the exhaust.” 

In total, 11 catalytic converters have been stolen across campus in the past month, seven reported on Sept. 17 and four on Oct. 3. All 11 incidents happened in broad daylight. Vasile reports that one incident took place at 7:30 a.m. 

“We’re working with law enforcement agencies that are experiencing the same thing,” Vasile said. “I don’t know of any thefts since Oct. 3, however, I am concerned that there could be more delayed reports. What I’d like the community to know is to remember that if you see something, say something. Report suspicious behavior, suspicious cars.” 

Seven of the 11 total reports came from Lot V1, also known as the freshmen parking lot. Two incidents reported occurred in Lot Y, and two more in Lot A. With six of the 11 reported catalytic converters stolen from Hondas, Vasile believes this make is the primary target, followed by Hyundais and Mitsubishis. One incident involved a Kia. 

“We do have cameras in all those areas, about 400 on campus,” Vasile said. “What we found though, is that sometimes the cameras are not necessarily a deterrent. Some people will still do things even though they know there’s a camera in the area. In this particular case, this person is essentially crawling underneath a car, so they’re low, and the cameras are not able to pick up everything.” 

Catalytic converters are usually targeted for their precious metals, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. They can sell between $200 and $500 or more at street value, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). New York has seen a 200% increase in thefts per year over the past three years, with new car dealerships as the main target. 

Vasile is confident an arrest will be made soon and speculated that the suspect or suspects are local to Monroe County area but not to the campus itself. To prevent further incidents, UP has been taking extra precautions to protect students’ cars on campus. 

“We’re monitoring the campus cameras here in the dispatch area as much as we possibly can. We have patrols paying special attention to all the parking lots. We’re really putting a special focus on this heightened awareness of the issue,” Vasile said. 

According to Vasile, it can take just a few minutes and a battery powered Sawzall to cut a catalytic converter from a vehicle. For a preventative solution, Vasile recommends buying a catalytic converter guard or protector. 

“These are simple devices you can buy on Amazon and have them installed. It can be like a guard on your car or what some of them call a ‘catalytic protector,’ a cable that essentially wraps around it and makes it much more difficult for someone to remove your catalytic converter,” Vasile said. 

For those unable to afford these guards or protectors, Vasile recommends students check their cars daily and change spots in the parking lot. He hopes these incidents will raise more awareness with students to report suspicious behavior going forward. 

“I’m hoping that our community can help us with this,” Vasile said. “See something, say something. Please alert University Police. Any kind of suspicious car, behavior or person because it’s worth having that kind of conversation or checking that area. I don’t want anyone to ever think it’s burdensome on us to have that call come in because if it means the safety of our community, we want to address that.” 

UP is located in Lathrop Hall, next to Hartwell Hall, and their phone number is (585) 395-2222. 

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Cambrie Eckert, News Editor
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