MINEOLA, Long Island (WABC) -- Authorities on Long Island brought in a major haul Wednesday, after they discovered a load of stolen catalytic converters, a popular target for thieves due to the expensive materials found inside the car part.
Several hundred catalytic converters were captured in a van, along with several million dollars found on a table after officers executed a search warrant in Long Beach Wednesday morning.
Those results step from 'Operation Cat Track,' a year-long investigation aimed at stopping a widespread problem, not just in Nassau County, but all across the country.
"This last year in the tri-state area, the theft of catalytic converters has gone up over 300%," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.
It's the result of the high-priced value of what's inside those converters: platinum, palladium and the most wanted element, rhodium, which sells for $12,000 an ounce.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said that when those three metals are crushed, it turns into a powder. That powder creates the three metals.
It takes a thief only minutes to saw off a catalytic converter from underneath a car.
The thief then sells it, perhaps to a scrap yard, for roughly $300 to $1000. The scrap yard tacks on a premium and resells the converter to someone who can extract the precious metals.
The money and materials confiscated on Wednesday was the visible reality of the lucrative nature of stolen catalytic converters.
The search warrant executed Wednesday netted wads of cash worth $10,000, $500,000 and $3.5 million.
Federal and state investigators have yet to make an arrest in this case but say the bust helps break up a lucrative criminal enterprise.