Three motorists are out several hundred dollars after thieves stole the catalytic converter from their car's exhaust.
Drivers whose cars were parked at three separate apartment complexes spread throughout Stow reported thefts of the exhaust component from their cars on the same day.
Catalytic converters, used to purify exhaust fumes, are built with precious metals such as platinum and secured by only a few bolts in most cases. The components can be sold for scrap at a high profit.
Julie Schmeida, a resident of Robinwood Apartments off Graham Road, found her converter stolen when she started her Honda Accord on the morning of April 19 when she was getting ready to take her daughter to school.
During the night, someone cut the converter off her car while it was parked at the complex.
"I started the car and it sounded like a motorcycle," Schmeida said. "They used some type of jack to jack my car up. Underneath the passenger seat the floor was pushed up. They sawed off all the way from the (oxygen) sensor to the mid point exhaust pipe."
Schmeida got stuck with a $1,600 repair bill, which fortunately was covered by her insurance company after she paid her deductible.
A resident of Partridge Run Apartments off Fishcreek Road told Stow Police that someone cut the catalytic converter from his 2003 Chevy Cavalier some time on April 19 while it was parked in the apartment complex.
The third victim, a Kent woman whose 2000 Chevy Cavalier was parked at Bridgewater Park Apartments, told police that, like the other victims, someone cut the converter out while her car was parked at the complex.
John Williams, the assistant manager at Monro Muffler/Brake, said he's only seen a few theft repairs at Monro recently as area scrap yards have stopped buying the components because they were often stolen merchandise.
"It almost doesn't make sense for people to keep stealing them," he said.
Williams said it's tough to prevent a catalytic converter theft other than by parking your car in a garage — if you have one — or installing an alarm.
Schmeida, who doesn't have access to a garage, said she's thinking about investing in a car alarm to try and deter thieves.
"Whomever is closest apartment-wise would hear my alarm going off," she said. "Anybody who has a Honda in Stow, if you can, I know some people like to park a lot in the driveways, but for the time being maybe housing it in the garage would be smart."