COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is warning park-goers about a string of catalytic converter thefts at Alum Creek State Park.

“It just takes a lot of extra patrols on our part, to make sure that the opportunity is not provided,” said Lieutenant Dawn Roberts, with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Throughout her 10-hour long shift, Lieutenant Roberts is on the lookout for the safety and wellbeing of parkgoers. Now, she’s had to add those parkgoers’ cars to the list, because of catalytic converter thefts.

“What’s making it easy is that when you do park your boat here and your trailer, you’re leaving for an extra length of time, right? Cause you’re fishing! So you’re enjoying your time out on the lake, you might put in around 7 am decide not to come back till right after lunch, and then, unfortunately, these individuals are getting into their vehicles,” said Lt. Roberts.

The thefts have been reported to have happened in broad daylight. ODNR officers said they’ve received calls anywhere from 7 am until 6 pm. Boaters out here said they’re hoping they won’t be targeted next.

“I’ve never had anything like that happen to me, so hopefully it doesn’t happen today,” said Jacob Fricker, a boater at Alum Creek.

This is an issue that plagues more than Alum Creek.

“Just five minutes ago I scheduled somebody for a missing catalytic converter, just got cut off, they look under and it’s gone,” said Andrew Corbett, a mechanic at Sigma Tec Automotive.

Nearly every week, Corbett said he has to install a new catalytic converter on a customer’s vehicle.
While replacing a converter can take over an hour, he said removing one, with the right tools, can take minutes.

“It can take a matter of five minutes for somebody to reach under, take a Sawzall, cut once, cut twice, out,” said Corbett.

Some mechanics quoted the cost to replace a catalytic converter to range anywhere from $600 to $1,000.

This is why ODNR has been increasing their officer presence around the area, and they’re asking visitors to stay vigilant too.

“What we’ve been encouraging most of our customers to do, is periodically check on that car. You know I went fishing in Delaware last week with my family, and I tried to park much closer than I normally would to my fishing spot. And I just periodically walked back and forth from my car, made sure it was in view, the best that it could,” said Lieutenant Roberts.