Police: Thieves targeting catalytic converters at airport

by: Tom Jones Updated:

ATLANTA - Atlanta Police said it's been quiet since they arrested a man accused of breaking into cars parked at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and stealing catalytic converters.

Shawn Wilson, 25, faces possession of tools to commit a crime, criminal trespass and prowling or loitering charges.

Police said they had noticed a rash of break-ins in all the parking lots. They said they had 37 since the beginning of the year.

Officers said the crook, or crooks, were mostly after catalytic converters.

"We noticed that there was a very similar method used to enter these vehicles and also similar things such as catalytic converters were taken," airport Maj. Lane Hagin told Channel 2's Tom Jones.

Police set up an operation where they had officers stake out the parking lots at night.

They said they noticed Wilson climbing a fence entering one of the parking lots.

Police said he had a bag of tools that would quickly remove a converter.

"He had a drill. He had a crowbar, some screwdrivers, things of that nature," Hagin said.

Officers said Wilson told them he was at the airport to meet a cousin but they say they didn't find the relative.

Travelers who parked at the airport said they'd be very upset if they arrived from a long trip and found out their catalytic converter was stolen.

"I'd be very disappointed. I want my car to be alright when I get back," Earnest Hall said.

"When you pay $9 or $12 a day you want to have that guarantee that your car is in a secured environment," traveler Tim Tate said.

They both were happy police sprang into action to stop the thefts.

Police said they don't know if Wilson was responsible for all the thefts, but they say it's been quiet since he was arrested.

They also point out the airport is very safe and 37 break-ins isn't a lot for the volume that comes through the world's busiest airport.

There has been an increase in catalytic converter thefts around the country. The converters contain valuable metals that crooks like to steal and sell to scrap shops.

The converter reduces vehicle emissions and your car may make a loud noise if the converter is missing.