A criminal’s attempt at stripping valuable car parts from a US wrecking yard has been thwarted by a forklift driver.

A wrecking yard’s quick-thinking forklift driver has prevented a recidivist thief from escaping with valuable car parts in the US.

Cleveland-based news outlet 19 News reports an employee of Arlington Auto Wrecking in Ohio noticed a would-be thief had broken into one of the cars on the property.

Rather than immediately raise the alarm and scare off the offender, a forklift driver working for the business drove up to the SUV the thief was in and lifted it off the ground – discouraging them from jumping out due to the risk of injury.

After placing a 9-1-1 call to emergency services, police officers arrived at the wrecking yard and arrested the offender, having found a reciprocating saw and other hand tools in his backpack.

According to the news outlet, the offender – identified as 26-year-old Alexander Funk – has broken into the wrecking yard multiple times and claimed his latest indiscretion was an attempt to strip copper from the SUV.

A staff member of the wrecking yard told reporters they have experienced a number of recent break-ins, with thieves targeting copper and catalytic converters.

Catalytic converters are targeted by thieves because they contain precious metals such as rhodium – worth approximately eight times more than gold per gram.

Thieves use tube-cutters and power saws to cut through exhaust pipes to remove the catalytic converters – and car owners are none the wiser until they attempt to start the car the next day.

The stolen goods are sold to unscrupulous recyclers for cash, with the precious metals then extracted and on-sold to refineries.

In November 2022, US authorities busted a nationwide crime ring which allegedly made more than $US545 million ($AU814 million) from stealing, selling and extracting the precious metals from catalytic converters.

According to the US National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were 1298 reported catalytic converter thefts in 2018.

The organisation claimed it received 14,433 reports in 2020 – a staggering increase of more than 1000 per cent in just two years.

Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach is Canberra/Ngunnawal born, currently residing in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found on weekends either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or swearing at his ZH Fairlane.

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