Written by Ron Scaglia Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00
Following a series catalytic converter burglaries at several Nassau County LIRR stations, car thieves may be targeting not only what’s inside your car but also what’s underneath it.
On Jan. 11, the catalytic converter was stolen from a 2005 Toyota Sequoia that was parked at the Long Island Rail Road Massapequa Train Station, the fourth instance at the station since June and the second over a three-day interval.
According to Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro, a similar incident was reported at the Westbury LIRR station a few weeks ago.
“We had a conversation with our precinct. You can just crawl underneath the rear of the car and wrench it off. It’s not like you have to open up the hood or anything like that,” said Cavallaro.
These thefts continue an unsettling pattern in the local area. Five cars that were parked at the Wantagh station between July and December had the catalytic converters stolen, as did a Hyundai Sonata that was parked at the LIRR station in Seaford recently.
Sgt. Veverka, of the Seventh Precinct, explained that these incidents in Massapequa have occurred during the day. The law enforcement official stated that thieves are targeting catalytic converters because they are quite valuable.
“These are worth thousands of dollars in the scrap yards, “ Sgt. Veverka commented.
According to a Seventh Precinct flyer, catalytic converters are stolen and the platinum is extracted, refined and then sold for over $1,400 per ounce. The most popular targets are late 1900s and early 2000 Toyota SUVs. The four vehicles targeted in Massapequa were a 2002 Toyota Sequoia, a 2005 Toyota Sequoia, a 2007 Toyota Sequoia and a 2007 Suburban.
After Toyota, other vehicles targeted are Hyundais, Nissans and Kias. Of the nine catalytic converter thefts in Seaford, Wantagh and Massapequa, six involved Toyotas, three have been Hyundais and one was a Mitsubishi. SUVs are popular targets because of their accessibility to the undercarriage.
While Toyotas are the most frequent target, the police warn that any vehicle built after 1975 is a potential target and that there is an overall upward trend in these types of thefts across Nassau County.
Veverka also added that there has been an increase in the larceny of items left in automobiles. However, unlike the catalytic converter thefts, which vehicle owners can do little to deter, the sergeant explained that this type of crime can be prevented with just a little bit of effort from vehicle owners.
“What’s senseless about this, it’s so easily combated at your level,” Veverka told the audience. “Ninety-nine percent of the cars where stuff is taken are from cars that are unlocked. One percent is broken windows. These are people walking up and down the street trying door handles. They’ll take anything from expensive electronics to small change.”
On anther note, the sergeant also warned that there has been an increase in the attempt of phone scams throughout Nassau County. He explained that these are instances in which a caller tries to con an unsuspecting target into sending money. For example, he explained that an unsuspecting individual might get a phone call saying that a relative is drunk and has just been in an accident. The scammer would continue that the caller would forget about the incident and not have the relative prosecuted, if he or she is sent money.
“We’re averaging about 10 of these a month,” he stated.
Regarding home invasions, Veverka urged residents to remain vigilant and call 911 if they see anything suspicious.
“Our biggest help is you – our eyes and ears,” he told those in attendance. “Call 911.”