Virginia Beach detectives dealing with spike in thefts of expensive car part 

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Police say an expensive car part is getting stolen in the middle of the night throughout the City of Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach detectives said they have been dealing with numerous cases since the beginning of the year.

At least a dozen vehicles were brought to Art Walker’s Auto Service in need of new catalytic converters over the last several months, according to owner Art Walker.

 It’s expensive to repair. Some people can’t repair them because they're worth more than the car,” said Walker.

On September 12, 49-year-old Paulo DaSilva was arrested for one count of attempted grand larceny and other related charges.

A patrol officer noticed suspicious behavior on Dean Drive, which is right near Walker’s business.

Court documents state DaSilva is accused of running from police, then say he was crabbing in nearby water and later allegedly admitted to trying to remove the catalytic converter from the box truck.

Related: Police investigating rash of car break-ins in Ocean View over the last month

Experts say the part is easier to remove from trucks and vehicles that are higher off the ground.

They said the parts get stolen for the valuable material inside of them. 

“There’s platinum-based material in it and they steal it for that, and then they turn it in to a scrap yard,” said Hall Automotive Divisional Fixed Operational Director David Pickett. “When the price of metal goes up, catalytic converters start coming off the cars.”

Experts say the part costs several hundred dollars - and even $1,000 to replace without the cost of labor.

Police in Virginia Beach say they've seen a spike in the catalytic converters getting stolen since the beginning of the year, but we don't know exactly how many cases they are working. 

DaSilva is currently facing charges in one case and has court on November 14. 

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