West Bend Mutual Insurance Company

What to Know About Catalytic Converter Theft

Thefts are skyrocketing. How can you protect your car?

By - Dec 22nd, 2021 10:22 am
Catalytic converter. Photo by Ballista, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Catalytic converter. Photo by Ballista, (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Catalytic converters, an integral part of a car’s exhaust system, remain a hot target for thieves.

Thefts began to skyrocket soon after the COVID-19 pandemic began and have remained high. In 2018, such thefts averaged 108 per month, but jumped to 2,347 by December 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

It’s a trend that has continued in 2021, causing many car owners to find an unpleasant surprise once they start their vehicle and hear a headache-inducing noise.

While a car can function without a catalytic converter, it is not a feasible long-term option, and getting caught driving without one can result in hefty fines.

Value of a Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters are not stolen to replace broken converters in other cars, but rather for the precious metals inside them.

The metals within a converter, palladium and rhodium, are very expensive. Palladium is currently valued at about $2,370 per ounce, while rhodium prices, according to The New York Times, have surged to $21,900 an ounce, roughly 12 times the price of gold.

A big reason the values of palladium and rhodium are so high is because supply chain delays resulting from COVID-19 have limited availability of the rare metals. Not only has the increased value in those metals made them a prime target for theft, it has caused a shortage of catalytic converters available for repair jobs.

Tips to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft 

When considering all the parts of a functioning car, catalytic converters are one of the most important. They help reduce airborne pollutants that carry potential to harm people and the environment. A well-functioning catalytic converter also improves the overall efficiency of a car, directly affecting the car’s health and performance.

No matter what type of vehicle you have, you can take several steps to prevent theft:

  • Park in a secure garage. If a secure garage is unavailable, park in well-lit areas close to building entrances.
  • If possible, weld the catalytic converter and the vehicle frame together; this will make it harder to remove.
  • Install a car alarm with a vibration alert sensor.
  • Engrave the vehicle identification number (VIN) into the converter, which can make it harder to sell and help owners track down the stolen part.
  • Spray paint the catalytic converter a bright neon color to make it less desirable to the resale market.
  • Consider buying an enclosure part, similar to a metal cage, that can be installed to cover the catalytic converter.
  • If the catalytic converter is stolen, immediately report the incident to the police.

It is important to be alert and prepared for any type of incident. With the rise in catalytic converter theft, car owners should also consider reviewing their car insurance coverage with their agent to understand how car part theft is covered.

For more safety tips, visit the West Bend Cares Blog.

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