OZAUKEE COUNTY -- The Ozaukee County Sheriff's Office is trying to determine if any police agency in the region has recently investigated the theft of catalytic converters. This, after they came across 23 freshly cut converters found inside a stolen SUV.
Officials say the stolen SUV was involved in a collision with a semi tractor trailer on northbound I-43 near State Highway 32 on Saturday, Jan. 13.
Roman Weninger with Five Corners Dealership in Cedarburg, says a catalytic converter -- which is a key component of the exhaust system -- is appealing to thieves because they can make a quick $50 to $200 from selling it illegally. The cost to replace one is around $1,000. A price Weninger had to pay five years ago, when criminals took several converters from his lot.
"There are precious metals in the actual converter, is where the value is," said Roman Weninger. "You can have toxins released into the air and possibly into the vehicle. It's a setback for business and a setback for customers that want those vehicles as well."
Four suspects have been arrested in this most recent case. Deputies also found dark clothing that appeared to be worn during the theft, as well as battery-powered saws, chargers and new and used blades. It's unclear what the suspects intended to do next.
For the victims, Weninger says the trouble extends far beyond the repair.
"I really have compassion for the people that own those cars because it's a hardship. It might hinder a person from getting to work. It might not perform correctly. It might not even start," Weninger said.
The Ozaukee County Sheriff's Office says the suspects are from Nevada and Illinois, but did not explain why they were in Wisconsin. They have not been charged and have since posted bail.
So far, the sheriff's office hasn't received any reports of stolen converters.
Officials are asking anyone with information about thefts of this kind to call 262-284-8462.