You'll frequently hear the term "mastermind" when it comes to describing the person responsible for a crime or a series of crimes, but I don't think the term fits this criminal at all.

The Crime du Jour seems to be the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles. They are (relatively) easily accessible and, in just a minute or so, they can be cut from a vehicle and removed (with a battery-powered reciprocating saw).

Why are catalytic converters being stolen? Catalytic converters contain precious metals, including palladium and platinum. With the ease of access, abundance (literally almost every vehicle built since the 1980s has at least one), and a rough economy, catalytic converters have become a big target.

The average value for the metals inside a catalytic converter? About $180, depending on the size/type. The replacement price for a catalytic converter? Anywhere between $350-$600, before installation (these may be old numbers, it's been a minute since I've fenced palladium).

So, there's money to be had when fencing the guts of a catalytic converter.

Now that we have the why out of the way, let's talk about the dumb criminal from Lake Charles who is accused of catalytic converter theft.

According to KATC TV3, a man from Lake Charles has been arrested for the theft/sale of a catalytic converter. Robert Northrup is accused of cutting a catalytic converter off of a Chevrolet truck at a boat launch in Calcasieu Parish (which is pretty smart, I guess; vehicles at the boat launch usually stay there for several hours, some even overnight if they went to the camp).

Northrup is also accused of selling that catalytic converter to a repair shop in the area.

Police investigating the theft found a phone under the recently de-convertered truck, and then traced that phone back to the accused: Northrup!! (I said "Northrup!! in the same voice/inflection Jerry Seinfeld says Newman!!).

Can you imagine what went through his mind when he realized where he lost his phone? And I wonder how deflated he felt when he saw the law a-coming?

I would think that stealing a catalytic converter would feel illegal while you are stealing it, no?

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