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Kansas City International Airport had a spike in catalytic converter thefts. Here's how they fought back

Posted: 1:39 PM, Aug 10, 2023
Updated: 2023-08-12 15:31:59-04
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When you leave your car at the airport, you expect it to be in the same condition you left it.

That didn’t happen for one Kansas man who parked his car at the Kansas City International Airport's economy lot.


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Denny Foerschler returned to KCI after a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, in May. He quickly made an unpleasant discovery.

“Got in, fired it up and I knew instantly what had happened,” Foerschler said.

Foerschler said he’s parked in the economy lot hundreds of times without thinking twice.

“This is the only time I’ve ever had a problem,” he said.

Foerschler took pictures and called airport police after realizing the catalytic converter from his Toyota Highlander was gone. He even spotted the bolts left behind by the thief.

While he said having his converter stolen was enough of a headache, driving three hours home to Minneapolis, Kansas, was another.

“That noise level was obviously constant all the way home,” Foerschler said.

Foerschler’s SUV now has a new catalytic converter. It was going to set him back $1,300, but after filing an insurance claim, he only paid his deductible of $250.

Still, Foerschler had some thoughts for the airport.

“Obviously, increase security,” Foerschler said.


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It turns out hundreds of people like Foerschler have had their catalytic converters stolen while they’re away.

In 2022, the worst year on record, there were 312 reported catalytic converter thefts, according to KCI police records.

Airport police report this year, so far, seems to be heading in a more positive direction.

Foerschler’s case lines up with others the KSHB 41 I-Team reviewed from a public records request.

In a report from March 2023, a man told airport police his Toyota Prius’ catalytic converter was stolen from the economy lot. He said a dealership estimated it would cost nearly $4,000 to replace.

When thieves target converters, Foerschler said they're after a quick payday. In the future, he said thieves won't have a second chance to profit off of him.

“I’ll probably pay the extra money to park in close,” Foerschler said.


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Following a spike in reported catalytic converter thefts, KCI spokesperson Joe McBride told the I-Team the airport has increased patrols, deployed a private security firm already under contract for security at the airport and installed more security cameras and license plate readers.

The airport also installed heavier-duty exit booth barricade arms and informed shuttle bus drivers and exit booth workers of what to look out for.

The information only came after McBride abruptly canceled an interview with the I-Team. He sent an email saying he had been “asked to cancel the interview,” without saying why.

Instead, McBride sent a statement.

“The Kansas City Aviation Department takes safety, security and customer service very seriously at Kansas City International Airport. The department is proud to have recently designed, built and opened a new $1.5 billion passenger terminal for Kansas City and its visitors. This pride goes well into the airport property with the grounds, rental car facilities, parking lots and other features. 

Security at the airport is a team approach with the TSA managing passenger and baggage screening, and the Aviation Department’s Airport Police division of sworn peace officers is responsible for the security of the entire 11,000-acre airport. 

The KCI Airport Police division command staff is aware of and concerned about the national and local trend of catalytic converter thefts from vehicles, and is in communication with partnering law enforcement agencies such as the Kansas City Police Department. Thefts have occurred throughout the Kansas City metro area, including Economy Parking lot at the airport. 

In recent years and months, the Kansas City Aviation Department has implemented security measures to thwart would-be thieves. Periodic reports of catalytic converter thefts in Economy Parking have led to review of security enhancements in the parking lot and grounds, with new measures being implemented as able. Some aspects of these measures must be kept private to not tip off would-be thieves on ways to circumvent security. Since beefing up security, thefts have significantly decreased. The Aviation Department will not let up on these measures." 
  • Increased patrols of SP Plus roving vehicles.
  • Deployment of private security firm Garda World (already under contract for security functions at the airport). 
  • Installation of additional cameras to supplement cameras already in place. 
  • Installation of license plate readers in key locations.
  • Heavier duty exit booth barricade arms.
  • Security awareness education of shuttle bus drivers and exit booth staff.