An American man was crushed to death as he tried to steal a catalytic converter from a parked car.
The body of 32-year-old Matthew Eric Smith, from the city of Savannah, was found underneath the vehicle after it fell on top of him at a car dealership on 7th March.
It was later recovered by officers from the Chatham County Police Department, Georgia State.
The police department said in a statement obtained by Newsflash: “Chatham County Police Department detectives believe an accidental death that occurred on Tuesday at a local business was the result of an attempted catalytic converter theft.
“Evidence at the scene indicates that the man was killed while he was illegally removing a catalytic converter from the vehicle, and the vehicle fell on top of him.
“The deceased was identified as 32-year-old Matthew Eric Smith.”
Records state that 30 catalytic converters were stolen in 24 separate incidents across Chatham County in 2022.
The devices, which reportedly reduce pollution and toxic gas from a car’s emissions, are predominantly stolen because they contain valuable precious metals, such as palladium, platinum, and rhodium.
A “coordinated takedown” by federal, state, and local law enforcement last year resulted in the break-up of a multimillion-dollar network of catalytic converter thieves, dealers, and processors.
A total of 21 people were arrested in five different states, according to a statement from the Justice Department on 2nd November 2022.
The department said: “Some of these precious metals are more valuable per ounce than gold and their value has been increasing in recent years.
“The black-market price for catalytic converters can be above USD 1,000 [GBP 820] each, depending on the type of vehicle and what state it is from.
“They can be stolen in less than a minute.
“Additionally, catalytic converters often lack unique serial numbers, VIN information, or other distinctive identification features, making them difficult to trace to their lawful owner.
“Thus, the theft of catalytic converters has become increasingly popular because of their value, relative ease to steal, and their lack of identifying markings.”