TAMPA — As the number of stolen catalytic converters continues to rise nationwide, Tampa Police say they’ve shut down a local business that had taken in over $500,000 worth of the coveted car part.
Denis Redzic, 29, and Zijad Nuhanovic, 33, face charges of violation of secondary metals recyclers regulations and for operating as an unregistered secondary metals recycler — both of which are felonies.
The duo worked for Armando Recycling, an unlicensed business that operated just east of Ybor City at 4101 E. 12th Avenue.
Police said they began a surveillance operation of Armando Recycling after receiving an anonymous tip.
Catalytic converters are sought by thieves because they’re fairly easy to obtain, according to the industry publication, Car and Driver. They range in price from $50 to a couple of hundred dollars each. But demand for the converters in other countries has caused the prices of the metals within the part, like palladium and rhodium, to skyrocket, according to the New York Times. Two of the three rare earth metals used in catalytic converters are worth more per ounce than gold.
In order for a recycling business to legally purchase catalytic converters, the seller must be able to prove that it legally belongs to them, with only some minor exceptions. That’s something Armando Recyclers didn’t require sellers to do, police said.
Redzic and Nuhanovic were arrested Tuesday, records show. Both were released after they each posted a $4,000 bail.
In a statement, Tampa Police issued a warning to both thieves and purchasers of catalytic converters:
“Detectives are sending a strong message to those business owners who choose to operate illegally, as well as the criminals who are stealing and selling: You will be caught, and you will be charged.”