There appears to be a flourishing black market for catalytic converters.
Thieves have stolen the exhaust equipment off numerous fleet vehicles from at least eight businesses near the Brookfield-Wauwatosa 124th Street border, from roughly the Village of Butler on the north to Burleigh Road on the south, according to Brookfield and Wauwatosa police reports.
Among the reports from the two police departments, catalytic converters were stolen from:
- Four leased trucks at FSA Network, 4320 N. 124th St., Wauwatosa. The thefts were discovered Friday morning when several drivers told a supervisor their trucks didn’t sound right and the check engine lights were coming on. Video surveillance footage showed a dark-colored, possibly green, Chevy Suburban pull in and make stops of a few minutes near the trucks, although no actual theft can be seen.
- One truck at Enterprise Rent a Truck, 4445 N. 124th St., Brookfield, right across the street from FSA. The trucks at FSA that were pilfered were leased from Enterprise and when Wauwatosa police contacted them, they said they also had a converter stolen off one truck that night. Brookfield police said they would share any video evidence they got from that theft.
- One Chevy van outside Harman Products, 3455 N. 127th St., Brookfield. A $500 converter was stolen sometime between 3 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sept. 17.
- One Ford E0250 van from the 3500 block of N. 126th St., Brookfield. A $500 converter was cut off the van during the weekend of Sept. 15 to 17.
- One company van at Dust Free Cleaning, 12201 W. Burleigh St., Wauwatosa. On Sept. 16, at 3:52 p.m., Dust Free's owner reported that overnight or some time before noon someone had removed and stolen the catalytic converter off one of the company’s vans.
- One van belonging to Habitat for Humanity Restore, 3015 N. 114th St., Wauwatosa.
- Two delivery vans belonging to Map Automotive, 2969 N. 114th St., Wauwatosa.
- Six leased trucks in a company fleet at Freight First Corp., 11500 W. Burleigh St., Wauwatosa. On Sept. 4, a manager reported someone had stolen six catalytic converters worth about $4,000 apiece.
And then there was the theft of catalytic converters worth more than $100,000 from 29 school buses when thieves crashed through a fence of a Milwaukee school bus yard.
That theft prompted the school bus company, First Student, to ask Brookfield police starting Sept. 17 to make extra patrols around its Brookfield bus yard in the 16000 block of Pheasant Drive.