Catalytic converters are always stolen. Here’s what you need to know

Across the country, there has been a dramatic increase in catalytic converter thefts since 2019.

Arizona alone saw a jump from just 142 flights in 2020 to 2,046 in 2021 – a 1,340% increase – according to been verified, an online database for public records information. In the Valley, there were 67 cases of stolen catalytic converters in 2019. Thefts soared to 4,718 last year.

“Exponential growth in catalytic converter theft is plaguing our county, it’s plaguing our cities across the country, and no one is immune to this problem,” Maricopa County District Attorney Rachel Mitchell said during an interview. of a press conference on August 10.

Here’s a look at why this car part gets stolen and how people can protect themselves from catalytic converter thieves.

What is a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter is part of many car emission systems. Located under the car, it reduces the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere, according to CARFAX.

They began being installed in cars in 1975, the CARFAX website says, to convert hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen from fuel combustion into water vapor and carbon dioxide. less harmful. It does this by using catalysts to start a chemical reaction that converts gases – hence the name “catalytic converter”.

Why do people steal catalytic converters?

The catalysts for the gas shift chemical reaction happen to be an assortment of metals. According to CARFAX, they include platinum as well as two other similar (and even more precious) metals: rhodium and palladium. This makes the coin very valuable, both in resale value and scrap value.

Starting August 22, YS Catalytic Recycling, an Albany, New York-based catalytic converter recycler, will pay an average of $336 per converter, though there’s a lot of variation depending on which car it’s for, the least pricey worth $13 for the most expensive up to $1,116.

As of August 26, platinum was selling for around $28 per gram, while palladium was selling for $68 per gram and rhodium was selling for $448 per gram, according to Daily metal prices. Catalytic converters are understandably expensive given that each will contain between 3 and 8 grams of platinum group metals, depending vehicle monster.

A BeenVerified analysis showed that in April 2022 thefts in Arizona were only about half of what they were in 2021, catalytic converter thefts are still on the rise nationally this year. Between January and April 2022, there were approximately 26,000 thefts of catalytic converters, representing an increase of approximately 34%.

Big hit: Man arrested after police find 1,200 catalytic converters in storage unit

Brandon Cuspard, a service manager at the local Phoenix Hi-Tech Car Care repair shop, said it’s fairly common to see customers come in after thefts, although he said he doesn’t hadn’t seen a case for a few months.

He said another reason catalytic converters are stolen so often is that it’s easy to remove. It’s inexpensive to buy the necessary tools — just a trip to Home Depot — but it’s also quick. He said he saw someone remove a converter in as fast as 45 seconds.

The high resale price combined with the speed and speed of theft make catalytic converters a prime target for thieves.

Mitchell said these crimes are often related to drug use.

“A lot of the time thieves steal them and then pass them on to buyers or fences to fund addiction,” Mitchell said at the Aug. 10 press conference. “Like the copper theft problem we have experienced, this crime may be linked to the fentanyl and methamphetamine abuse problems that currently exist in our country and in our county due in large part to the fact that our border is n is not secure.”

Can you drive without a catalytic converter?

Cuspard said you’ll notice your catalytic converter is missing as soon as you start the car. It will be much louder than usual.

He said most cars will still work without the part, at least well enough to take the car to a repair shop.

“I wouldn’t take it to California, though,” Cuspard said.

Considering their resale price, replacing a catalytic converter is an expensive trip to the mechanic. Cuspard said it depends on the make and model of the car, but replacements (including the labor cost to install it) typically cost between $600 and $2,800.

Like any stolen valuable item, a theft of a catalytic converter should be reported to the police, although most stolen converters are not recovered. One should also contact their auto insurance company to find out if the stolen converter is covered under their policy.

“The cost of replacing a stolen catalytic converter is usually covered by the comprehensive coverage portion of a standard auto insurance policy,” said Luis Sahagun, director of external communications for Farmers Insurance.

What can be done to reduce the risk of theft of catalytic converters?

Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill on May 9, 2022, prohibiting anyone from soliciting a used catalytic converter, or soliciting or purchasing the platinum metal parts of a converter, unless it is directly related sale or installation of a new catalyst. converter.

The bill also requires anyone purchasing a catalytic converter to send a record of the purchase to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Some local agencies help people deter theft of their catalytic converter. The Maricopa County District Attorney’s Office partnered with the Tempe Police Department and Midas Repair to provide a free etching of the catalytic converter on August 14.

Mitchell said the bureau hopes these efforts will deter thieves or at least make it easier to prosecute.

“The goal is to etch a unique ID number on people’s catalytic converters to deter a criminal from stealing that converter, and if they do steal it, to allow us to match it to the victim for restitution and also to show that the converter itself was stolen,” Mitchell said. “We’re working hard to hold the people who do these things accountable.”

At Phoenix: Robbery investigations slowed by police shortages and reassignments

Which cars are most likely to have catalytic converters stolen?

According to a 2022 study by CarfaxHere are the 10 cars most targeted by this type of theft nationwide:

  • 1985-2021 Ford F-Series Pickup Trucks (F-150, F-250, etc.)
  • Honda Accord 1989-2020
  • Jeep Patriot 2007-17
  • Ford Econoline Vans 1990-2022
  • Chevrolet Silverado Pickup Trucks 1999-2021
  • Chevrolet Equinox 2005-21
  • 1997-2020 Honda CR-V
  • Toyota Camry 1987-2019
  • 2011-17Chrysler 200
  • 2001-21 Toyota Prius

CARFAX based this list on service reports for catalytic converter replacements from more than 60,000 service shops across the country, focusing on service records from 2019 through the first three months of 2022.

Is there anything else I can do to reduce the risk of my catalytic converter being stolen?

Hi-Tech Car Care has released a list of methods people can use to reduce the risk of having their catalytic converter stolen.

Beyond the converter etching, one can purchase a variety of fixtures that would make the converter much more difficult to steal, such as a shield, lock (called CatStrap), or siren (called CatEye), according to Hi-Tech Car. Care website.

Additionally, Hi-Tech Car Care recommends calibrating your car to trigger its alarm system if it detects vibration when placed in park.

Finally, AAA recommends “storing (the vehicle) in a safe place,” such as a garage, said Aldo Vazquez, external communications manager at AAA. Try to park in well-lit areas and near building entrances.

“If someone has access and has the right equipment, it only takes a few minutes to remove a catalytic converter,” Vazquez said.

Contact Late Breaking Journalist Sam Burdette at [email protected] or on Twitter @SuperSafetySam

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