US – Almost weekly we see in the local crime reports that someone is reporting that a muffler part has been cut off their vehicle, catalytic converters, but this isn’t something local its nationwide.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, this kind of theft is skyrocketing across the nation.
“We have seen a significant increase during the pandemic. It’s an opportunistic crime. As the value of the precious metals contained within the catalytic converters continues to increase, so do the number of thefts of these devices. There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources, and disruption of the supply chain that drives investors towards these precious metals.”
A catalytic converter is a device that looks like a small muffler along with the exhaust system. It is designed to convert the environmentally hazardous exhaust emitted by an engine into less harmful gasses. To do this, manufacturers use platinum, palladium, and rhodium as the three valuable metals used in catalytic converters. These metals also come with high price tags per ounce. Rates available on KITCO.com, an online retailer of precious metals, showed that prices for rhodium had a 2021 high between March 19 and March 22 with a rate of $27,000 per ounce, according to NICB.
In the first week of November, KITCO.com showed rhodium prices at $13,250 per ounce, according to NICB, while palladium was $1,934 per ounce and platinum was $1,028 per ounce. Palladium reached its 2021 peak price on May 6 at $2,890 per ounce, according to NICB, while platinum’s 2021 peak came on Feb. 19, totaling $1,266 per ounce, prices on KITCO.com showed.
According to a report by NICB, data does show an increasing trend toward stealing the car parts nationwide.
“In 2018, there were 1,298 catalytic converter thefts reported. In 2019, it was 3,389 reported thefts,” the report notes. “In 2020, reported catalytic converter thefts jumped massively to 14,433, with December leading the way with 2,347 thefts, or roughly 16 percent of the yearly total – in just one month.”
How can I protect my car from catalytic converter theft?
According to Farmers Insurance, there are three ways to protect a vehicle from converter theft:
• Etch the license plate number on the converter to make the part easily identifiable to police.
• Park in well-lit areas and set a vehicle alarm. Adding bright motion-sensor lights to outdoor areas where possible can help deter thieves, as well.
• Install an anti-theft metal shield to the car frame to cover the catalytic converter.
NICB also notes that any fleet vehicles — such as those belonging to a rental car company — should be parked in an enclosed and secure area that is locked, well-lit and alarmed.