Savannah, GA – The owners of a Georgia car dealership arrived at work late last week to find the crushed dead body of a would-be catalytic converter thief trapped beneath one of their vehicles.
“I didn’t even get close to him,” South Bound Auto Sales owner Mike Abouharb told WTOC. “I called the police right away.”
Abouharb said the suspect broke into the rear yard of his business on March 7 and jacked up a vehicle without properly securing it, according to WJCL.
The intruder was attempting to cut out the catalytic converter when the vehicle fell down on top of him and crushed him, the dealership owner said.
Abouharb said it wasn’t hard to piece together what occurred.
When he noticed a jack on the ground that he had placed in a totally different area the day before, he went to take a closer look and found the would-be thief’s trapped remains, WJCL reported.
The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) received a 911 call from the business at 9:15 a.m.
“At this time, the death appears to be accidental and no foul play is suspected in regards to the cause of death,” the sheriff’s office said at the time.
Investigators identified the suspect on March 8 as 32-year-old Matthew Eric Smith, WTOC reported.
They also confirmed Smith’s death was “the result of an attempted catalytic converter theft,” according to the news outlet.
Abouharb said he is upset and angry over the incident and noted it is just the latest problem they’ve encountered over the past nine years they’ve been in business, WTOC reported.
“Name it… it happened,” he said. “In any given year, you got between $30 to $50,000 lost in catalytic converters, radios, even tires!”
“Everybody thinks the car business, you’re shoveling money. But you make a little money, then get a hit like this and it makes a big toll. It’s a hardship. It’s not worth it,” Abouharb told WTOC. “What happened… I think that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
He said the dealership may be forced to change its business model in the near future in order to stay afloat.
The frustrated dealership owner also had a message for thieves who chose to target local businesses.
“Get a job. Do something and stop stealing,” he said, according to WTOC. “We work very hard for what we get.”
“Is it worth it? To steal a catalytic converter to sell for $100? To lose your life?” Abouharb asked. “It’s not.”