Catalytic Converter Theft in under Two Minutes!

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Catalytic Guard Protected sign on vehicle bumper
You may have heard about the huge surge in the theft of catalytic converters in cars and trucks this past two years. It's pretty amazing and it only take a thief two minutes or less to grab this expensive part from your vehicle. Why is this a thing? Let's find out.

What is a Catalytic Converter?

In order to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's strict regulations to reduce automobile exhaust emissions that pollute the air, automakers started installing catalytic converters beginning in 1975 and all vehicles today have these devices. For those of you who live in a state that requires emissions inspections, you can't pass without this amazing device. Basically, this is an exhaust emission control device that converts toxic gases into less toxic pollutants by combining oxygen with carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. Some vehicles have two catalytic converters attached to the exhaust system.

Why Do Thieves Want Catalytic Converters?

Put simply, thieves want your catalytic converter because there are precious metals in them that are worth as much or more than gold. These converters include such costly materials as palladium, platinum, and rhodium to convert nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide into less harmful gasses and the cost of these precious metals is going through the roof. In fact, according to Consumer reports, the price of an ounce of platinum is now over $1,000, an ounce of palladium is over $2,300, and rhodium can cost over $20,000 an ounce! You can see why a thief would want to nab this costly converter. 
Which vehicles are most at risk?
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), theft of catalytic converters rose by over 300 percent between 2019 and 2020. How shocking is that? NICB recorded claims for 3,389 thefts in 2019 and a whopping 14,433 in 2020. The number of thefts has been so astounding that some states have passed laws that require scrap metal dealers to obtain vehicle titles or other documentation before purchasing used catalytic converters. 

Replacing a stolen converter box can cost you anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 bucks!
Certain cars and trucks are more at risk of have their catalytic converters swiped than others. Vehicles that have higher clearance such as pickup trucks, are more likely to have catalytic converters stolen because it is just easier to get to the converter box. Other cars such as a Toyota Prius or other hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles are targeted because hybrids use the converter less than traditional gasoline-powered cars. Thus, the catalytic converter is often in "like new" condition and fetch higher prices.

In an effort to educate consumers, CARFAX has compiled a nationwide list of vehicles that are most targeted for catalytic converter theft. 
The top ten are as follows:
  • 1985-2021 Ford F-Series pickup trucks (F-150, F-250, etc.)
  • 1989-2020 Honda Accord
  • 2007-17 Jeep Patriot
  • 1990-2022 Ford Econoline vans
  • 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks
  • 2005-21 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 1997-2020 Honda CR-V
  • 1987-2019 Toyota Camry
  • 2011-17 Chrysler 200
  • 2001-21 Toyota Prius