DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an uptick in catalytic converter thefts in the county, and providing tips to prevent people and businesses to become victims.

The sheriff’s office caught a catalytic converter thief in the act on May 9 and they are looking for suspects in another theft in Washington Township.

United Rehabilitation Services in Dayton was a victim of catalytic converter thefts last year. The organization had six catalytic converters stolen from their transport vehicles.

“Our losses just for the vehicles we’ve had violated in the last six to eight months has been well over $10,000,” United Rehabilitation Services CEO Dennis Grant said.

The thefts also affected their ability to do their jobs helping children and adults with disabilities.

“We were actually unable to transport a number of people who were on our regular routes to bring here for adult day services and had to borrow and rent vehicles in order to accommodate that,” Grant said.

“Thieves don’t realize the impact it does to that business, it’s not that they’re just out a $1,000 to $2,000 mechanic bill,” Major Jeremy Roy with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said.

The sheriff’s office arrested 38-year-old Brian McIver while he was attempting to steal a catalytic converter from a business in Harrison Township near Needmore Road and Webster Street on May 9.

Roy said the arrest was possible because of relationships established with businesses in the area, who have reported multiple catalytic converter thefts recently.

“They’re sick of getting hit, we’re sick of seeing them get hit. That’s our community, we want to protect it, so we’re glad we’ve got this guy locked up,” Roy said.

38-year-old Brian McIver

Catalytic converters are part of a vehicle’s exhaust system and contain precious metals. Roy said they have a high value and only take a few minutes to be stolen.

To prevent it, the sheriff’s office recommends installing security cameras, improving lighting around vehicles, having an alarm system and marking catalytic converters with the vehicle’s identification number or colored paint.

“When a scrap yard or someone reputable gets something like that, they’re not even going to take it,” Roy said. “If us threatening to put them in jail isn’t going to scare them, then them trying to cash it in and those businesses turning them away – there’s no reason for them to continue.”

Grant said since the thefts, there haven’t been any more, but URS has invested thousands of dollars to secure the area around their vehicles.

“A couple hundred dollars, $300 for a catalytic converter, and the damage they do to an organization and to the people that they serve, whether it’s us or any of the other organizations that have been hit, it’s just unfathomable,” Grant said.

Authorities said the most important thing to do if you’re a victim of theft is to report it to police so they can investigate.

Anyone with information about catalytic converter thieves can call local law enforcement or Miami Valley Crime Stoppers at 937-222-STOP.