Oneonta Man Caught Cutting Catalytic Converter at Car Lot
New York State Police say a homeless man was caught red-handed cutting out a catalytic converter from a vehicle at an Oneonta car dealership.
Troopers say they responded to a call made to Otsego County 911 that reported a larceny in progress at a business on New York Route 23 in Oneonta.
The responding Trooper reports on arrival, 31-year-old Jesse Sklenarik was found being held down by an employee of Certified Auto.
The employee said they saw Sklenarik attempting to cut the catalytic converter off a vehicle on the dealership property.
Sklenarik is charged with misdemeanor Attempted Petit Larceny.
Thefts of the valuable auto part have been rampant in the region in several months as thieves steal the items from auto shops, dealerships, businesses and even people’s driveways. One report of a catalytic converter theft in the region in January even involved the theft was from a vehicle used by a cemetery in Ithaca.
The equipment can bring several hundred dollars in retail or for scrap to have the metal melted down but the damage to the victims’ vehicle can be much more expensive.
In accounts of recent thefts in New York and the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, values been placed as high as $3,000.
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles says some areas of the state have experienced a 200% increase in thefts this year.
In May, the DMV announced a new initiative that allows auto dealers to etch a traceable serial number into the part that can be clearly seen and quickly linked back to the vehicle from which it was taken.
This past spring, the DMV said a continued increase in the value of precious metals was making the theft of the items even more enticing.
Since announcing the program, the DMV was working with auto dealers’ associations to distribute etching kits.