According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), thefts of catalytic converters have been increasing dramatically across the United States. In 2018, there were 1,298 catalytic converters stolen; 2019 saw that figure triple to 3,389. But that leap paled compared to 2020’s statistics when drivers reported 14,433 thefts.
What Is A Catalytic Converter?
A quick definition for those who aren’t familiar with what’s under the hood of their vehicle: a catalytic converter is an automotive part that takes the pollutants, and toxic gasses produced by an internal combustion engine and converts them into less-toxic materials.
To replace a converter that has been stolen, the driver will likely need to spend between $1,000 and $3,000. Naturally, this high cost is prohibitive for many people, making the recent rise in these thefts a significant problem.
Why Are These Parts So Prone to Theft?
Why the sudden jump in the number of stolen catalytic converters? It correlates directly with spikes in the value of rhodium, palladium, and platinum-the metals used to manufacture these car parts. Thieves can expect up to $250 for each one they steal and bring to a recycler.
Another contributing factor may be the ease with which thieves can remove the catalytic converter from a car. It’s especially quick to steal them from SUVs and pickup trucks simply because those vehicles’ undercarriages are easier to access. Smaller vehicles, such as Hyundai and Honda models, are also frequently targeted; their catalytic converter might be harder to remove, but they contain a higher amount of those three valuable metals.
The Cost to Victims
Drivers don’t generally realize that their catalytic converter has been stolen until they try to start their car, only to hear an ominous, loud rumbling sound. The catalytic converter is located between the engine and the exhaust, so its absence is not immediately apparent.
In addition to the repair costs that could total several thousand dollars, drivers who have been victimized by catalytic converter thieves may find themselves struggling with other unforeseen costs, as well. With their car out of commission, they may miss work. Or they incur expenses by renting a car or taking ride-shares to and from their workplace.
Prevention and Punishment
Car owners can take some steps to lower the risk of their cars being targeted. Parking in a garage or private lot is a smart idea, as is installing motion-sensor lights to illuminate your driveway. Drivers who must park on the street can install an aftermarket locking device that physically protects the catalytic converter.
Law enforcement agencies and the judicial system are doing their part, too. In 2021, the Indiana legislature passed a bill requiring strict regulation of catalytic converter sales; the law went into effect on July 1, 2022. Another measure made the theft and illegal purchasing of catalytic converters a level-six felony punishable by up to 2 ½ years in jail.
Desperate Measures Can Lead to Crime
One of the reasons that catalytic converter thefts have risen so dramatically is that people are falling on desperate times, often as an indirect result of the pandemic. If you’ve caved to your baser impulses and stolen a catalytic converter or committed any other type of crime, the attorneys at Razumich & Associates can help. You’ll get no judgment from us, just expert legal assistance.
Give us a call at 317-983-5333 or contact us today.