Catalytic converter thefts rise, leaving drivers stranded


(NewsNation) — Car thefts are on the rise across the country, and one type of theft in particular is causing major issues.

As catalytic converter thefts have risen, manufacturers have become so backed up it can take months to get parts, leaving drivers stranded.

Thieves target cars parked on the street or in driveways, stealing the catalytic converter and leaving drivers out of a car for weeks or even months.

“I’ve had a customer who’s had three converters stolen on their cars within 6 months,” said Gineen Lucas, owner of Lucas Tires.

For something that causes such a big headache for drivers, it’s surprisingly quick for criminals to accomplish.

“It took them a minute and 20 seconds,” said Justin Boyan, whose catalytic converter was stolen.

Thieves get under the car and saw out the catalytic converter before taking off with it. Now, thanks to the rise in thefts, it can take months to get another certified catalytic converter for your car.

“I’m still waiting for my mechanic to say the part’s available, but he said four to six weeks, and it may be longer,” Ashley Harris told NewsNation about her stolen catalytic converter.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau in 2019 more than 3,000 catalytic converters were stolen across the nation. That number shot up to more than 65,000 in 2021 and in 2022 the number was on pace to hit nearly 80,000.

Some of the most at-risk cars for catalytic converter thefts are the Ford F series, Honda Accord and Toyota Prius.

Catalytic converters are valuable because of the metals they contain which can be sold at high prices to scrap yards or overseas.

“It’s because of that precious metal that’s in the catalytic converter, they contain platinum, palladium and other metals and they’re at a very high price now,” Providence Police Officer Timothy O’Hara explained.

While it is possible to drive a car without the converter, it’s not a good idea.

“It sounded like a hot-rod, like a really really loud sound, like get the attention of the neighbors sound,” Harris said of her car after her converter was stolen.

Even when law enforcement does crack a case, jailing thieves and finding hundreds of stolen converters, there`s no way to figure out which car a converter belongs to and return it.

“There is no identification stamp on a catalytic converter. Matching them up to which crime they’re connected to is almost impossible,” O’Hara said.

If your catalytic converter does get stolen, replacing it can cost anywhere from $200 to $5,000, depending on your insurance.

To prevent your converter from getting stolen, you can buy converter locks and safe-shields, but thieves are sawing right through them. The best thing drivers can do is to park their car in a secured garage..

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