NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Thieves are targeting businesses in Maumelle and North Little Rock, but they are not going after merchandise, rather they are collecting what’s under cars.

Catalytic converters were taken from Kleaner’s Supply and Service which caught the act on camera. According to owner Ryan Barker, his business is far from the first hit in the area.

“Everyone in Maumelle and North Little Rock has taken a hit. Especially if you own a bunch of trucks. I mean they’re going and they are wiping them out all at once,” Barker explained.

Surveillance video recorded the sounds and face of whoever took five catalytic converters, but he didn’t see the evidence soon enough.

According to Barker, “When they (his employees) started up one of the trucks this morning, you could hear the rumble from halfway across the parking lot.”

At that point, Barker knew his business had taken a serious hit. Five of his 10 vehicles including one personal vehicle have to go to the shop because a man got away with each catalytic converter. Barker estimates it will take between $10,000 to $15,000 to restore things to how they were before. In his words, “They got us good.”

Barker’s cameras have caught thieves trying to steal catalytic converters twice before. Cops arrested them then, but Sunday Barker’s motion alerts were not turned on to ping his phone. He said that lapse in judgment was due to false alerts from stray animals.

“You can’t be out here 24 hours a day standing guard over your vehicles protecting your catalytic converters. It really starts with who is buying the catalytic converters,” Barker argued.

Larry Alman is president of Alman Recycling Company, one of the many scrapyards and auto shops our station called in the area. He and most others don’t accept any catalytic converters if they are not attached to a vehicle.

“You can’t trace anything back anything through a catalytic converter, so we don’t purchase them,” Alman stated.

An adjustment was made years ago in response to the common poaching of the part and its valuable palladium. It is more valuable than gold or platinum due to its rarity and conversion use in almost every modern motor vehicle.

In 2021, the Arkansas legislature passed a law requiring those who buy or sell catalytic converters to thoroughly vet and document the process. Alman believes better tracking on the front end could discourage criminals.

He said, “If there was a serial number on them. There’d be no problem.”

It may help find the long-term solution, but those impacted today are still left covering the cost.

“There’s nothing you can do,” Barker concluded. “I’ve got to operate, and if you can’t operate, you can’t make money.”

Kleaner’s Supply and Service had to cancel jobs while sending trucks for repair. According to Barker, other businesses told him they dealt with the same thing. He filed a report with the North Little Rock Police Department in hopes whoever struck his business will not have the opportunity for another score.