INDIANAPOLIS — A crucial part of your car is becoming a popular target for thieves.
Michael Sparks said he thinks he was targeted because he has a higher profile vehicle that made it easier for thieves to get under and steal his catalytic converter, and he hopes someone out there saw something that will bring the crooks to justice.
Sparks hopes someone with clear surveillance video from the night the catalytic converter was stolen will come forward. It was stolen last Wednesday night or early Thursday morning on Julian Avenue, just east of Emerson Avenue on the east side.
"I believe a collective group of people will actually work together to catch these guys," he said.
That's why Sparks is sharing his story.
"As soon as I turned it over, because this has happened to us before, I knew immediately they had taken the catalytic converter," Sparks said.
His Honda Element is in the shop for work that expensive.
"The repair on the car is $800. I make $10 an hour. That's 80 hours that I work, 80 hours away from my family, 80 hours away from my child," Sparks said.
Eight hundred dollars he could have spent on his daughter, Chloe. Sparks was taking Chloe to a doctor's appointment. She has multiple sclerosis.
"We have to schedule those one year in advance," Sparks said. "My daughter's sickness is very serious. Had we missed it, it would have been detrimental to her health."
It's not an uncommon crime in Indianapolis. The National Insurance Crime Bureau tracks catalytic converter theft nationwide. From 2008 to 2015, Indianapolis had the fifth-highest number of cases in the country.
"It's incredibly loud," Sparks said. "About three times as loud as if your muffler fell off your car."
Catalytic converters contain precious metals like platinum with roughly three-to-seven grams in each one. The current price of platinum is around $27 a gram. Sparks has a message for businesses buying the metal from criminals.
“It all starts with you guys,” he said. You guys are the ones that are creating this demand the reason these thieves will go out and do this.”
IMPD doesn't track catalytic converter thefts. A spokesman said they're unaware of any increase of this type of crime.
“They know what they're doing, and they're getting rich off of it at the expense of the citizens of Irvington and the rest of the city,” Sparks said.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends etching your vehicle identification number into your catalytic converter and says after-market theft deterrent systems can make stealing them more difficult.
“Money's one thing, but I don't think these people realize what they're doing to people's lives,” Sparks said.
As for Sparks and his daughter, they made the doctor's appointment and what started as an awful day got better at Chloe's follow up appointment to learn how she was responding to an experimental drug to treat her MS.
“It was the best news I've got in my entire life,” he said. “And it's working - the disease has been halted. So, $800, who cares?”