Thieves steal thousands of dollars in car parts from dealerships across Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. — Over the past three months, thieves have stolen at least $30,000 worth of car parts from an RV dealership in Spokane. They’re only taking one specific part.

Dan Arrota, an owner of several car dealerships in Spokane, told 4 News Now thieves are taking his catalytic converters. They’re meant for your car’s exhaust system. It’s happened before, but nothing like what’s happening now.

“It’s been happening anywhere from three to five times a week,” said Chris Famalaro, the sales manager for Click It RV. “It’s probably happening more in the early hours, probably midnight through 3.”

The part is under your car, so the only way to know if it’s gone is to turn on the car or RV.

“Once the catalytic converters are taken out they’re super loud, so once you start them up it’s instantaneous,” Famalaro explained. “I guess there’s platinum in them. There’s all kinds of stuff or reasons why they’re being taken.”

Famalaro said it doesn’t take long to steal them. He believes thieves are crawling underneath the vehicles and using a machine-powered saw to cut them off. It takes about five minutes to do.

Since this started happening, Famalaro said his store has spent more than $30,000 in replacement parts and labor. The converters are not only being taken off the new RVs, but some owned by people storing their RV at the lot.

“When we have somebody that comes here and stores a unit and they’re catalytic converter gets taken, you know unfortunately it’s a cost that we have to endure and it’s a cost the victim has to endure,” he explained.

The store had to buy security cameras and even hire an overnight guard.

“It’s happening at not only our store here, but it’s happening at all of our car dealerships, too,” he said.

The Arrotta brothers own five dealerships in Spokane. Arrotta’s Automax has been hit by thieves, and an employee told 4 News Now the dealership has had about 25 catalytic converters stolen.

Police reports have been filed and Spokane Police are looking into it. Famalaro said he wants more than just the thieves held responsible.

“On top of not only the thieves that are taking them, you know, the people buying them should be at just as much at guilt, because someone around here is buying them,” he explained.

It’s not clear if anyone is buying them or if they’re being taken to a scrap yard. Either way, Famalaro said the solution to this is to find out who’s buying them and how they’re vetting those customers.

“With the pandemic going on and all that craziness going on it’s a horrible time to steal from people,” he said.

If you have any information, you’re asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.