SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Suffolk man is warning other drivers to be vigilant after thieves targeted his vehicle while it was stranded.
Someone took a catalytic converter — a piece of the exhaust system that contains high-value metals — from the vehicle, resulting in an expensive repair bill.
Four days and hundreds of dollars later, Frank Cusimano finally has his car back.
“You got to be kidding me. That’s exactly what I thought — ‘You got to be kidding me.’ I didn’t know what to do,” Cusimano said.
Cusimano ran out of gas while coming home from work early Saturday morning. He left his car on Route 58 near Murphy’s Mill Road, walked to find gas, and came back an hour and a half later.
“Put the gas in the car, started up the car and it was really loud. I knew right away that something had happened with the exhaust,” said Cusimano.
A mechanic himself, he drove to a nearby gas station. Cusimano was shocked when he looked underneath his car.
The catalytic converter had been sawed off clean. He called police.
“He said that he’d seen this before with tractor trailers and school buses but never a car on the side of the road,” said Cusimano said.
The most recent numbers from Suffolk Police show there have been 36 reports filed for catalytic converter larcenies this year.
Cusimano said the highway was dark but he also said it’s a well-traveled road.
“That’s crazy that somebody would even take the chance of doing something like that,” he said. “If I had stumbled across them, I would’ve thought somebody was trying to help me, and I would’ve walked right up to them.”
Police said, like other property crimes around the city, catalytic converter theft happens sporadically and in clusters.
There are ways to lower the risk.
- When possible, park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances.
- Park in your driveway, if available, whenever possible.
- If you have a garage at your house, park your car inside and keep the garage door shut and locked.
- Calibrate your car’s alarm to set off when it detects vibration. Catalytic converters are often sawed off the vehicle.
- Install motion sensor activated lights around your residence.
- Report any suspicious behavior immediately to the police.