DENVER — Hot housing markets and thriving car sales aren't the only phenomenons Denver is experiencing. Colorado's black market has also been thriving as prices for metals contained within a vehicle's catalytic converter have been soaring in recent years.
According to the Denver Police Department, there have been nearly 1,000 catalytic converter thefts in the city between January and May of 2021.
This is a major increase when compared to the same time period in 2020, with only 23 incidents reported.
But there's perhaps a more depressing figure for the victims, according to DPD Public Information Officer Jay Casillas.
"It doesn't sound like we've been able to link anyone to this so far," Casillas said.
That's been a point of frustration for victims like Brian Treitz.
"The thieves can just do their thing without reprisal," Treitz said.
Treitz just had to shell out a portion of the $4,500 bill to replace the catalytic converters on his Toyota Tundra. The price may be just as bad as the wait time for service.
"I started calling the dealers and they were quoting, 'if we were lucky,' three weeks to get parts, and they were seeing upwards of eight weeks," Treitz said.
Corey Sweet, the owner of House of Mufflers and Brakes, says wait times like that have been apparent across the state.
"Manufacturers can't keep up with supply and demand right now. So, we're having a hard time getting products to get people's cars back on the road," Sweet said. "I would say, in the last 30 years I've done maybe 30 stolen [catalytic converters], and we've probably have done 500 in the last year, plus, possibly more than that."
In the meantime, DPD has partnered up with Lincoln Tech to help the public etch vehicle VIN numbers and paint catalytic converters to deter criminals from stealing them. The last event was held on Saturday and more events will be announced for the coming weeks.