Three students report catalytic converters stolen

Public Safety to increase patrolling on campus

Nicole McIsaac and Melina Khan

Three students were identified as having their vehicle’s catalytic converters stolen on Quinnipiac University’s Mount Carmel and North Haven campuses from Oct. 5-6, according to an email sent Friday by Chief of Public Safety Tony Reyes.

In response, Reyes said the university will increase its patrolling on campus to mitigate future incidents.

Quinnipiac’s Public Safety is increasing its campus patrols after three separate stolen catalytic converter incidents. (Daniel Passapera/Chronicle)

A catalytic converter is a device attached to a vehicle’s exhaust system. Thieves target these devices since they are made out of highly valuable metals, typically platinum, palladium or rhodium. Stolen catalytic converters are sold for $50 to $250 each, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. For the victims, the replacement fee of the catalytic converter costs $2,000, per Public Safety’s incident reports of the recent thefts.

A student on the North Haven campus reported the first incident on Oct. 5. According to the incident report The Chronicle obtained, the student arrived on campus at 10 a.m., parked their car in the parking garage and did not return until 9:50 p.m. that night. 

The student explained to the responding public safety officer that when beginning to drive their car, a 2010 Honda CRV,  a loud noise began coming from the engine. The student said they subsequently pulled over, concerned the car was unsafe to drive. 

Upon examining his vehicle, the student realized the catalytic converter had been cut out of the car and alerted the Public Safety. The public safety officer contacted the North Haven Police Department, who filed a theft report.

The following day at 3:20 p.m., a Quinnipiac public safety officer responded to another report of a stolen catalytic converter from a Honda CRV in the North Lot on the Mount Carmel campus. 

The driver of the car similarly reported that they had gone to class earlier that day and when they returned to their vehicle and began driving, heard a loud noise coming from the exhaust. The student then examined their car and found that the catalytic converter had been forcibly removed. 

After contacting Public Safety, the student surveyed another nearby Honda CRV and noticed its catalytic converter had also been stolen.

Braydon Seaburg, a junior advertising and integrated communications major, was one of the students who had his catalytic converter stolen. He said he initially found out about the incident after receiving an email from Public Safety stating what happened to his vehicle and asked him to meet them.  

Seaburg said he was initially “a little confused,” but was “not happy” about the vandalism. 

“I felt really frustrated when I found out my car had been vandalized,” Seaburg said. “I just put the converter on my car about a month ago and now my car may have to be totaled after all of this.”  

In an interview with The Chronicle, Reyes said that police in New Haven, North Haven and Hamden are reporting similar incidents and the “string of thefts” could potentially be linked to the same suspect or suspects.

“It is not uncommon when we see thefts like that of things as specific as a catalytic converter, it’s not uncommon for there to be a rash of,” Reyes said. 

Reyes said thefts of catalytic converters typically happen quickly but are loud, as thieves have to use a reciprocating saw for removal. 

However, Reyes said it can be difficult to catch criminals in the act because they often look for desolate areas.

“Our campus is pretty porous, especially in the Hogan (lot) area, it’s very accessible,” Reyes said. “It’s not as staffed as North Lot.”

Emily Prodromakis, a junior nursing major who frequently parks in the North Haven campus parking garage, said she is feeling “very nervous and on edge” after the three incidents occurred. 

“I feel that when I am in the classroom, I should not be worrying about if someone is going to steal parts of my car,” Prodromakis said. “I don’t even know much about car parts, so if some of my car parts were stolen, I’m not sure if I would even know.” 

I feel that when I am in the classroom, I should not be worrying about if someone is going to steal parts of my car.

— Emily Prodromakis, junior nursing major

When it comes to her safety, Prodromakis said she can only keep her “fingers crossed and hope for the best” that potential incidents do not occur. 

“Stealing car parts is very dangerous, especially for car owners who are not educated on the mechanics and parts of a car,” Prodromakis said. “For all I know, I could start driving my car and it begins to smoke or blow up.” 

Despite the incidents, Reyes said he is hopeful that since students are informed of what to look for, there will be increased vigilance on campus.

“The best way to prevent things from happening is to try to create awareness so that people can take any action whatsoever to minimize being victims,” Reyes said.

Reyes encourages students to report any suspicious activity to Public Safety, as well as to submit anonymous tips to [email protected].