The Student News Site of State University of New York at Brockport

The Stylus

The Stylus

The Stylus

Is it over? Catalytic converter thief arrested in Rochester

Maksimchuk is set to be arraigned in the Brockport Village Court later this month. (Photo provided by SUNY Brockport University Police)

With the help of closed-circuit television cameras, surveillance footage and reports from witnesses, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office were able to arrest suspect Vasiliy Maksimchuk on Nov. 28 in Rochester, New York.  

According to SUNY Brockport’s Chief of University Police (UP) Daniel Vasile, Maksimchuk will be arraigned for his crimes on Dec. 16 in the Brockport Village Court.  

“After an extensive 3-month investigation led by Lt. Johnson, Lt. Barnes and Officer Pagano, in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, University Police has charged suspect Vasiliy Maksimchuk with multiple counts of Auto Stripping in the first degree, Grand Larceny in the third degree and Criminal Mischief in the second degree,” Vasile said.  

Throughout this fall semester, 21 catalytic converters have been stolen. Last year, only two were stolen throughout the entire academic year.  

“Maksimchuk is responsible for several catalytic converter thefts on the SUNY Brockport campus during the fall of 2022,” Vasile said. “He is currently being held in the Monroe County Jail, awaiting his arraignment in Brockport Village Court for his crimes. At least one other suspect has been identified and is wanted by University Police.”  

At this time, the second suspect’s name has not been released and officials say they are not considered a danger to the community.  

“Maksimchuk and his associates are known by local law enforcement to be a notorious catalytic converter theft ring,” Vasile said. “Him and his crew, with most of the thefts being conducted by Maksimchuk, have victimized parking lots of several of the area’s colleges, airports, parking garages, businesses and unattended vehicles all over Monroe County.”  

Officials have determined through this investigation that certain models like Hyundai, Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi pose a higher risk of theft due to the amount of rhodium, platinum and palladium inside their catalytic converters.  

“What we’ve researched is that there are more quantities of precious metals in certain vehicles, as well as ease,” Vasile said. “Where they place the catalytic converter in certain makes and models makes it easier for people to remove. With Hyundai, I believe, the catalytic converter is pretty exposed underneath the car.”  

Rhodium prices have skyrocketed in the past two decades, leading to a national increase in catalytic converter thefts. According to Vasile, what was once $1,600 in 2001 has risen to an average of around $18,000 in 2021. Depending on the make and model of the car, these criminals can make around $150 to $1,500 off a single catalytic converter.  

Maksimchuk has allegedly stolen up to $50,000 worth of catalytic converters, causing thousands of dollars in damage, according to UP.  

“He is being held in Monroe County Jail at this time, because there are a lot of different agencies with possible charges,” Vasile said. “Maksimchuk is experienced in this type of criminal conduct. He was recently arrested in Cicero, New York in June of this year for the same types of crimes, but due to bail reform he was released back into society.”  

While catalytic converter thefts can happen in a matter of minutes, there are ways to prevent yourself from becoming a potential victim.  

“There’s a lot of other people that have realized that these materials are very lucrative at this time,” Vasile said. “Just because we’ve caught one person doesn’t mean that it can’t happen again. I believe there are several others committing these same acts here in our community. I encourage everyone to park their car in a well-lit area and buy some anti-theft devices or preventative alarms.”  

According to Vasile, the most effective anti-theft device you can buy for your car are catalytic converter shields, which encase converters in a barrier made from aluminum or stainless steel. These shields can be installed by a local muffler shop or garage.   

Another option, such as cables and straps, can create a physical barrier around the converter, becoming a possible deterrent for potential thieves trying to work their way around them. Motion-detecting alarms can also be installed in vehicles to prevent thieves like Maksimchuk by alerting people nearby with a loud auditory noise.  

For those who have already become a victim of a catalytic converter theft, there are different programs available such as the Monroe County Victim Assistance Program or the NYS Office of Victims Services. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Stylus

Your donation will support the student journalists of State University of New York at Brockport. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Cambrie Eckert, News Editor
Donate to The Stylus

Comments (0)

All The Stylus Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *