Police advise witnesses to not confront catalytic converter thieves as incidents turn violent

Police and law enforcement experts are warning that confronting catalytic converter thieves can turn dangerous.
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 4:29 PM EDT
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MILFORD, CT (WFSB) - Amidst a rise in catalytic converter thefts, police are asking residents to be a good witness, not a hero.

This is because thieves are getting bold and violent.

Last week in Milford, thieves pulled a gun on a man who confronted them in a hotel parking lot.

Law enforcement are reminding people that any car part is not worth putting your life in jeopardy.

According to Milford police, last Wednesday three men in ski masks stole a catalytic converter off a car in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn on Old Gate Lane.

Police said the trio then went to the Hampton Inn on Plains Road where they tried taking another, but were approached by a man.

The suspects started to leave the parking lot, but police said they turned around and drove up to the witness, who was now with a woman, and pointed a gun out the car window at the two, before driving off.

Shortly after that, Milford police spotted the suspect’s vehicle in another parking lot, this time at the Motel 6 on Schoolhouse Road.

When the officer tried to pull the car over, the thieves sped off.

After a chase on I-95, police eventually lost sight of the suspect vehicle in New Haven’s Hill neighborhood.

With these types of thefts on the rise, police and law enforcement experts are reminding people about the potential dangers, stressing while tempting, don’t confront the thief, rather get a good description and call police.

“Your life is not worth stopping someone from stealing that catalytic converter, like I said, its $1000 to $3000, but your life is worth a lot more, so you want to be a good witness, you want to observe who is stealing the part, get a license plate number, get a description of the person,” said Ken Gray, a Senior Lecturer with the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven.

This latest incident comes just a month after a Milford man had his face slashed while confronting thieves.

“It’s getting crazy and crazier with the catalytic converter thefts going on for the past 2 years now,” said Eric Lutz, of Milford. “To try and kill someone over one, that’s even crazier.”

“Over the last 2 years, it’s been a 1000% increase in the thefts of catalytic converters,” said Gray.

That includes just last month, when Luke O’Brien heard a noise outside his Milford home and went outside to investigate.

Thieves used a grinder to slash his face, coming dangerously close to his artery.

Luke, who needed 300 stitches, told Eyewitness News at the time, to: “Call the cops, first thing, don’t try to be a hero, it’s not worth. These punks, they don’t care.”

That’s what law enforcement experts are stressing too.

Gray said police don’t want you to be the hero, because putting your life on the line for a car part is not worth it.

“You want to be a good witness, you want to observe who is stealing the part, get a license plate number, get a description of the person. You don’t want to confront the person yourself, you want to call police,” said Gray.

Police stress if you see anything suspicious, get to a safe location, get a good description of the suspects, and call police.

Police and law enforcement experts are advising residents to be good witnesses as catalytic converter thieves are getting more bold.