SANFORD — Thieves are stealing catalytic converters from vehicles throughout New England.

“I got a call from my wife,” Jared Kenney, who says the catalytic converter was stolen from his wife’s company car, said. “She said, ‘Hey, my car’s running really weird, making a lot of weird sounds.’”

Kenney says it is his wife’s company van, so he went to see what was wrong with it.

“As soon as I started it up, I just knew for a fact there was something wrong with it,” Kenney said. “It was just a telltale sign on that one, and I checked under the car, and lo and behold, it was the catalytic converter. It was cut right off of it.”

According to Sanford Detective Everett Allen, there have been more than a dozen catalytic converter thefts in Sanford alone.

Kenney said the theft happened while the van sat in a church parking lot.

The vehicle belongs to Rick Oellers, who owns a small business servicing aquariums in southern Maine.

“I’m very upset about it, because I only had liability coverage on that vehicle, and it’s going to be about $2,500 worth of damage,” Oellers said.

He says with his business is taking a hit during the pandemic, he can’t afford to repair the van right now.

“I haven’t got that kind of cash to spare,” Oellers said. “It was a really good punch in the stomach.”

The attraction for thieves are the precious metals, platinum, rhodidium and palladium, used to make catalytic converters.

“They’re worth a lot of money,” Allen said. “Basically, the precious metals inside of them. Some ‘cats’ are worth up to $900 or $1,000.”

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