Combatting Growing Catalytic Converter Theft
Catalytic Converter Theft Out of Control
The catalytic converter is among the most valuable parts of your car. It’s a little larger than a toaster – easily carried by one person – and located underneath the rear of the car in easy reach, just ahead of the tailpipe. And it’s filled with valuable metals.
Data scientists from the background-check firm BeenVerifiedTM found 14,433 reports of stolen catalytic converters in 2020. In just the first five months of 2021, they found 25,969. In 2019, they found reports of just 3,389 catalytic converter thefts. This is a 766% increase from 2019, and we are barely into 3Q. Thefts were most common in California, Texas, Washington, Minnesota, and Colorado. Connecticut, Colorado and Arizona saw the biggest spike in thefts. (Source: Sean Tucker, Kelly Blue Book – August 9, 2021)
Why are catalytic converters stolen?
- Catalytic converters are an easy, fast and lucrative target for criminals
- Two of three “rare earth” metals used in a catalytic converter are worth more per ounce than gold Palladium sold for about $500 an ounce in 2016 but fetches $2,636 today. Rhodium, also common in catalytic converters, sold for $640 an ounce five years ago. Today, it goes for about $17,050 an ounce.
How are they stolen? Working generally at night when it more difficult to catch on camera or be seen, they are cut out from a vehicle in less than 2 minutes. The only tools needed are a wrench or reciprocating saw to slide under the vehicle and cut the catalytic converter away.
What vehicles are most targeted? The most commonly targeted vehicles are those that sit higher off the ground. Buses, trucks, SUVs and vans are easy for a thief to slide underneath and not bee seen while they quickly work. Criminals focus on business truck and bus fleets along with sales lots or parking garages.
How will a driver know if a catalytic converter is stolen? The vehicle rarely will show any damage the exterior, but they will know as soon as it is started. It will sound extremely loud, like a car without a muffler, super loud and deep roar!
How to prevent theft and protect your bus or fleet – Combatting the growing threat
- Ensure vehicles are locked and secured at all times
- Park and keep lesser used vehicles in locked, gated or indoor garage when not in use
- Use security lighting – always ON or motion sensor style
- Install theft deterrent aftermarket product – generally a lot less investment compared to downtime, loss of service combined with costly repairs, $3,000 or more!
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