Phoenix man warns of catalytic converter thefts

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

There was a spike in catalytic converter thefts a few years ago, but one man said the crooks are still out there.

"I was a little angry and especially because I lived in such a nice neighborhood," motivational speaker Gordie Bufton said. 

He said on Tuesday he did what he does every night; he parked his car overnight at his condo.

"I came out at 7:45 a.m. to leave for a speech down the street at a high school and I turned my car on and it was like the loudest thing I've ever heard," Bufton said.

"I looked under the car to see what the problem was and the catalytic converted was missing," Bufton said.

Thieves are after the converters for their scrap metal, worth around $100. If your car is high enough off the ground they can slip in underneath and saw off the converter in a matter of minutes. Police said Toyotas like Bufton's are popular because of the metals they contain.

"How often we see it depends on how high the price is for turning in metals," said Bogi Lateiner, owner of 180 Automotive

She said it's tough to say how to prevent this but she - and police - recommend being on the look out and parking in well-lit areas to avoid a repair job that Bufton will now have to pay.

"You can be looking at anywhere from a couple of hundreds dollars to a couple of thousand dollars," Lateiner said.