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Catalytic Converter Theft Bothers Police

PINI BOTHOKO
Catalytic converter PIC: SAN BERNADINO SUN
Motorists have been warned to be on the lookout and not fall prey to criminals who saw out catalytic converters from their vehicles’ exhaust systems for profit-making. 

This plea comes from the Botswana Police Service following the recent police breakthrough that led to the arrest of a Zimbabwean man believed to be running a business trading in catalytic converters in Mogoditshane. A catalytic converter has precious metals that have rapidly increased in value.

It is part of the exhaust system and reduces harmful pollutants coming out of the engine. Catalytic converters are made from rhodium, palladium, platinum and gold, which are all valuable metals attracting the thieves. For a while now, a criminal syndicate trading in catalytic converters is believed to have been selling motorists’ catalytic converters across the country.

Director of Crime Intelligence, senior assistant commissioner, Nunu Lesetedi told The Monitor they are worried about the emerging trend where criminals remove catalytic converters from cars in garages without the owner’s consent. He said people would after a while hear a change in the sound of their vehicles when the engine is running. That is when they realise that the catalytic converter has been sawed out without their knowledge.

Lesetedi said last week during a police raid of a garage in Mogoditshane where they  arrested Bvumai Mavunga, a Zimbabwean national. The suspect was found in possession of catalytic converters that he failed to account for. Lesetedi said during Mavunga’s arrest they also took into custody 32 illegal immigrants who are suspected to be his employees. He said Mavunga owns a fleet of 60 cars that traverse the country stripping cars of their catalytic converters.

Lesetedi stated that

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during the arrest, Mavunga disclosed that his business makes about P3 million a week and has not been paying his taxes. Furthermore, he said they established that the suspect also runs the said business without a trading licence. “Catalytic converter theft is on the rise. We have received several reports from people who have been driving their vehicles for a while without noticing that their catalytic converters have been sawed out without their consent. We have established that a person would take his or her car to the garage and the said thieves would cut the catalytic converter out without the owner’s consent,” Lesetedi said. He added that they also found vehicles equipped with grinder machines that the suspects are believed to have been using in their trade. He said during the raid they found unregistered vehicles without catalytic converters. “This is a serious concern because those cars would be sold to innocent citizens who would thereafter struggle to fix their vehicles wasting a lot of money only to realise that a catalytic converter had been removed,” he said.

“Some of these criminals have been deceiving unsuspecting motorists to sell them the converters telling them that they are not important. I am pleading with motorists to be cautious at all times, especially when taking their cars to the garages.” Lesetedi said they also established that the said catalytic converters are being exported outside the country where demand is high and believed to be profitable.



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