According to a National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB) study, there were 25,394 catalytic converter thefts from 2008 to 2015, based on insurance claims data alone. The actual number is likely much higher, and the frequency of these thefts is increasing.
The NCIB study also reports “catalytic converters are unique in that they each contain a small amount of one of three precious metals: platinum, palladium, or rhodium. The presence of those metals is what drives catalytic converter thefts as they can easily bring anywhere from $20 – $240 in recycling value depending on the amount and type of precious metal they contain.
An aggressive thief can easily collect 10-15 or more converters in a single day. They often target sport utility vehicles (SUVs) because their ground clearance is sufficient for the thief to gain access to the converter without having to deploy a jack. And that saves time.”
If you have experienced a catalytic converter theft or want to take action to prevent a loss, the best thing you can do is to relocate vehicles to a well-lit secured lot or locked garage as soon as possible. These thieves often work in gangs that travel around the country, hitting the same targets repeatedly in a short amount of time. Increased security patrols from the police or private security firms may also deter thieves but they are limited in effectiveness as thieves only need a minute or two to remove a catalytic converter.
There are also aftermarket modifications that can be installed on vehicles. Two examples are Catstrap or Catclamp. Catstrap has a motion detector operated alarm that is mounted next to the catalytic converter making it more difficult for the thief to work under the vehicle due to the noise. Another option is installation of vibration sensitive car alarms. Etching the vehicle identification number (VIN) or tag number on the catalytic converter may also deter a thief from targeting your vehicle as the catalytic converter can be harder to sell. Your vehicle dealer may also be able to provide further guidance.
The full NICB report can be found here.
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