LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) UPDATE: The Campbell County Sheriff's Office says 26-year-old Troy Patton is charged with property damage and grand larceny in connection with the catalytic converter thefts. More charges are pending.
ORIGINAL STORY: Integrity Auto Source is a repair shop where Brandon DeWitt and his team work to diagnose car problems.
A few weeks ago, one of the vehicles on his lot presented an issue he wasn't expecting to find.
"We had just gotten it in," DeWitt said of the car. "I was getting ready to bring it into the shop to get it worked on and, as soon as I fired it up, it was extremely loud."
DeWitt said he knew immediately the car's catalytic converter was missing.
Two weeks later, the same thing happened again.
"Again, very loud," said DeWitt, a service manager at Integrity Auto Source. "A lot of fumes I could smell."
The equipment, which helps control exhaust fumes, is being cut directly off of vehicles. Investigators in Campbell County say they've seen a series of crimes like this recently.
Integrity Auto Source has been hit three times in just the last week.
"We're having to put all of this money back into (the cars) again to repair them properly. It's costing thousands of dollars," DeWitt said.
Investigators say the crimes are happening in different parts of the county, but the largest concentration of reports have come from the Timberlake Road area.
Thieves have primarily targeted Honda vehicles, parked in places where they wouldn't be seen overnight.
"We have stepped up our efforts in this area," Herndon said. "We're just also asking for our citizens to help us out."
DeWitt is taking extra precautions, too.
"We are stepping up security, to make sure this doesn't happen again," said DeWitt.
Deputies are urging people not to leave their cars parked overnight in dimly lit or unsupervised areas.
If you know anything about the thefts or who might be carrying out the crimes, you're asked to call the Campbell County Sheriff's Office at (434) 332-9574 or Central Virginia Crime Stoppers at 1-888-798-5900.
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