(WMC-TV) - Southaven police believe they may have found the man responsible for a rash of burglaries by swiping valuable parts right from under cars.
Catalytic converters are found underneath vehicles and can be sold between $50 and $100 for scraps, but it can cost car owners five to ten times that amount to repair the damage.
The shiny metal parts may not look like much on the outside, but it's what's on the inside that daring crooks are after.
"There's several precious metals in a catalytic converter you've got rhodium, you've got platinum, they're even experimenting with adding gold in them as a catalyst," said mechanic Nathan Wood.
After several car repair shops were hit multiple times near Airways Boulevard and Goodman Road, investigators were on high alert when they say Randy Madlock was caught breaking into a car lot with several tools on Sunday.
"We ran Mr. Madlock's name and found he has a large amount of sales of catalytic converters over in Arkansas, so with that we're trying to match them to our thefts," said Lt. Mark Little with Southaven Police.
Chuck Reed replaces converters for many of the victim businesses. Several vehicles have made it into his shop lately.
"I've done as many as 20 where they've taken them. Some of the body shops, when they can't get all of the cars inside the shop sometimes that happens they have to stay outside and when that happens that's when they take the converters," said Reed.
When a thief is after the scrap metal with power tools, Reed says they can be reckless.
"They'll cut transmission lines, oxygen sensors; they'll cut anything to get the converter out because they don't care," Reed said.
Mechanics like Wood say it can happen in the blink of an eye.
"They could probably come on this lot and steal six within 10 minutes, 15 minutes most," said Wood.
That's why investigators urge folks to park in well lit areas near other cars.
Madlock is in jail charged with burglary of a business; his bond is set at 30,000.
Investigators say he may not have acted alone.
If you know anything that could help, call the Southaven Police Department at 662-393-8652.