By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Three men have been arrested over an alleged stealing-spree of catalytic converters from under parked cars in the South East.
Transit Divisional Response Unit police say 70 thefts and five attempted thefts of car parts sawn from cars at railway stations and other locations between 5 May and 24 August.
Forty of the alleged thefts occurred in Greater Dandenong, with 16 in Casey, six in Kingston, four in Monash and three in Knox.
The trio’s thefts also happened in Frankston, Glen Eira, Maroondah, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Ranges.
The men were arrested during four police raids on properties in Cranbourne North, Noble Park and Cranbourne on Thursday 2 September.
Police say they seized tools, car jacks and clothing during the raids.
Detective Acting Inspector Robert Milliken said the thefts caused “more than just inconvenience” for car owners.
“These offences alone have caused about $35,000 worth of damage to the vehicles involved.”
The catalytic converters, which are used to reduce emissions, are part of a vehicle’s exhaust system.
Catalytic converters are reportedly sought for their precious metals platinum, palladium and rhodium, and are on-sold for cash.
On online marketplaces, each part is worth at least several hundred dollars. There have been several buyers in the South East advertising for the parts on forums like Facebook Marketplace.
“We know that thieves often steal car parts for cash, so to them our message is clear – if your intention is to commit crime in the vicinity of public transport, don’t bother,” Det Insp Milliken said.
“You will be caught and held accountable.
“We urge car owners catching the train to park in well-lit areas where possible and remove valuables from their vehicles.”
In early August, Star News reported on the brazen crime wave also targeting factories, workshops and a shopping centre car park in Greater Dandenong.
MK Automotive’s Rob Monea said a hapless customer discovered the theft when they started their car and heard a long bang,
At first he thought the muffler must have blown before he jacked up the vehicle and inspected the neatly sliced damage.
A 20-year-old Cranbourne North man was charged with 32 counts of theft from motor vehicle and attempted theft from motor vehicle.
A 24-year-old Noble Park man was charged with 21 counts of theft from motor vehicle and attempted theft from motor vehicle.
A 21-year-old Cranbourne man was charged with 37 counts of theft from motor vehicle and attempted theft from motor vehicle.
The men were bailed to appear at the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court at a later date.