Chatham Co. Police confirm death at auto shop was result of attempted catalytic converter theft

Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 10:40 PM EST
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - The owners at South Bound Auto Sales in Chatham County came in to work to something they never imagined - a body under a car.

“I didn’t even get close to him. I called the police right away,” said Mike Abouharb, the owner of South Bound Auto Sales.

Chatham County Police are calling it an “accidental death” but Mike Abouharb found the body crushed under the car Tuesday morning. From what he saw and what was left behind, he said the man was trying to steal a catalytic converter.

Chatham County detectives confirmed Wednesday, 32-year-old Matthew Eric Smith’s death was “the result of an attempted catalytic converter theft.”

“Is it worth it? To steal a catalytic converter to sell for $100. To lose your life? It’s not.”

They’re business owners so while they are still processing what they saw, they have to keep it running.

“It’s been disarray. Upset. Angry.”

According to the owner, keeping the doors open has not been easy.

“Name happened,” he said. “In any given year, you got between $30 to $50,000 lost in catalytic converters, radios, even tires!”

But after nine years of selling their cars, they’ve had to figure out how to keep recovering.

“No choice. You have a business to run.”

Tuesday morning’s incident though has made them question what the future will look like.

“What happened...I think that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

And if there will be a future at all...

“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 has a message to thieves choosing to target any business.

“Get a job. Do something and stop stealing. We work very hard for what we get.”

The car dealership said they might consider changing their business model in the near future.