Baton Rouge Police confiscated 101 catalytic converters from a duo who had been stealing them from all over East Baton Rouge Parish, the department said in a news release Thursday.
Matthew Gibson, 39, and Brooke Gibson, 34, both of 8915 Stonecroft Avenue, were found with the converters — which they allegedly cut off and stole from local vehicles — and heroin, LSD, illegal prescription drugs and crystal meth, BRPD said.
They were each booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for 3 counts of possession of stolen things over $25,000; contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile; possession of drug paraphernalia; several charges of possession with intent to distribute drugs; and possession of a firearm.
Catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed over the past year, law enforcement officials and car experts say.
According to data released by State Farm, theft claims for the expensive car part rose nearly 293% nationwide between July 2020 and July 2021.
Located beneath the vehicle, catalytic converters are part of a car’s exhaust system and help reduce toxic gases and pollutants. Because they’re made from precious metals like platinum, rhodium and palladium, the parts have an exceptionally high market value, ranging anywhere from $900 to $2,500 or more.
In Baton Rouge alone, police say they fielded roughly 450 reports of catalytic converter thefts in 2021. Comparative data from earlier years isn’t available because the department only began keeping track following the recent surge, explained BRPD spokesman Sgt. L’Jean McKneely.
Not even East Baton Rouge public schools have been safe. In December, the K-12 district reportedly had $45,000 worth of converters stolen from underneath 15 buses over the course of two weeks, causing widespread disruptions.