TOPEKA (KSNT) – Topeka police arrested a 39-year-old man early Tuesday morning after finding him under a bus trying to cut out a catalytic converter from a vehicle.
An officer was patrolling the area near SW 12th Street and SW Fairlawn when he saw a man under a bus at the First Lutheran Church. After confronting the man, he took off on foot.
Officers caught Kenneth E. Guenther, 39 of Topeka, arrested and booked him into the Shawnee County Department of Corrections.
Catalytic converters are a part of the exhaust system located on the underside of a car. Topeka police said they’ve recently seen thieves targeting cars parked at churches and nonprofits.
They’ve also seen businesses with large vans and trucks targeted. According to Allstate, thieves take the catalytic converters because they contain precious metals, and can sell for around $200 at scrap yards. Thieves also often target taller vehicles, like trucks or SUVs, because they can get underneath easily.
Guenther was charged with the following crimes:
- Theft > $1,500 < $25,000
- Criminal damage to property
- Felony Flee or attempt to elude; Commission of any felony
- Flee or attempt to elude; police road block
The police department reported seeing a large number of thefts of catalytic converters in 2020 and into 2021. Specifically, criminals are targeting churches, charity organizations and businesses with large vans and trucks. The police department provided a map of where it saw catalytic converter thefts throughout the city of Topeka last year.