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Homeowner records video of thieves taking catalytic converter from car in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Home surveillance video shows the boldness exhibited by at least four people while in the act of stealing a catalytic converter from a car Wednesday morning.

The victim, Byron Franklin, said that the theft happened just before 6:30 a.m., in his driveway near the intersection of Dublin Boulevard and Montarbor Drive, on the city's northeast side.

Byron Franklin

In the video, four men appear to be coming from a red car parked across the street, and gather around the victim's car as they look around to avoid being seen -- but are apparently unaware of or unconcerned about the camera recording them.

One man crawls under the victim's car and uses a drill or other device to remove the part; the noise is fairly loud but didn't seem to draw attention.

Byron Franklin

"We didn't hear the noise because we had our air conditioning on," Franklin explained. "And we didn't get an alert from our Ring video app because we had it turned off when we normally have it turned on. I'm mad about (the theft). It took them 90 seconds to do it."

Franklin said that he's one of four recent victims of catalytic converter thefts in his area this week.

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"It will cost me my deductible, of course, but if you don't have insurance it can cost between $2,500-$4,500 to replace," he said. "It is also going to take me 3-4 days to just get a rental car while my car is in the shop.  These crimes are being done by the same group of 4-5 guys in a red sedan believed to be a Chevy Cavalier."

Franklin said that he has filed a police report, and KRDO is waiting for a response about investigating the thefts.

"I didn't noticed what had happened until I took my daughters to school, found a brick under my tire and heard a loud noise from under my car," he said.

Catalytic converters help filter exhaust from vehicles, and thieves covet precious metals inside the devices to sell -- legally or on the black market.

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"You can get up to $500 and $600 for a used catalytic converter," said Nathan Walker, of Meineke Car Care Center. "I receive multiple phone calls a day from out-of-state recyclers who are looking to buy. You can have cage-type products installed to provide some protection, but nothing is 100% effective."

Walker also said that catalytic converters became more valuable last year, when Colorado mandated all devices repaired or replaced to meet California emission standards -- which required the addition of more precious metals -- but a saving grace is that the same legislation requires the devices to bear serial numbers for easier tracking.

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"I get around ten calls a day from people who have had theirs stolen and want to know how much it costs to replace them," said Phil Boatright, of Discount Exhaust Works, where Franklin's car is being repaired.

Boatright said that Franklin's car should be ready Friday; insurance covered $600 of the $1,600 repair bill.

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Franklin's wife, Jo Ann, has a message for the thieves:

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"Get a life, get a job and leave people alone."

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With so many people who park in driveways or on streets, their vehicles are potentially inviting targets for thieves; experts advise you to take necessary precautions to protect your property and avoid becoming a victim.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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