Thieves are targeting large passenger cars, church buses, commercial vans and mini-buses in the Midlands area, the Richland County Sheriffs Department warns.
Since last Thursday, catalytic converters have been stolen from vehicles parked at three businesses and an adult education center in East Columbia.
Catalytic converters are targets for their precious metals content: platinum, palladium and rhodium, experts say.
The Pineview Learning Center at 1916 Pineview Road was struck sometime between 3 p.m. Thursday and 8:30 a.m. Friday. Catalytic converters worth a total of about $2,500 were stolen from a passenger van and two mini school buses, a sheriffs department statement said.
Sometime over the weekend, catalytic converters were taken from three businesses: Web-Don Inc. on Shop Road, Interstate Transportation Inc. of Trotter Road and Carolina Water and Air on Old Garners Ferry Road. Interstate Transportation took the biggest hit with 15, vehicles broken into and converters worth $15,000 taken, authorities said.