You wake up, get ready for work, grab your coffee and out the door. When you start your car there is a very loud exhaust noise! What the heck? You are likely one of the thousands of victims with a stolen catalytic converter. Now what?
First, let’s explain what a catalytic converter is and what it does. The catalytic converter is a piece of equipment in the exhaust system responsible for cleaning harmful emissions from your engine before the air is vented into the atmosphere. It does not look fancy, just a large pipe in various shapes and sizes but it is what is inside that makes it valuable. Most catalytic converters are made up of a honeycomb brick of precious metals such as Palladium, Platinum and Rhodium. These metals are considered part of the platinum group metals and are rare therefore expensive. These metals are particularly good at cleaning carbon and other harmful emissions from the air as it passes through the catalyst brick. This cleans the air and helps keep our atmosphere clean.
So why do people steal them? The answer is easy, fast money. Much like the major issue with thieves stealing copper from wiring in buildings, thieves are stealing these converters to turn the metals in for money. Some vehicles are known to have more valuable converters than others and therefore not everyone is a target. Some vehicles have easier access to the converters like trucks and SUV’s, but the biggest target is Toyota Prius Hybrids. They have a higher amount of the precious metals than some other ones and are not hard to steal. They are such a big target that last we checked there are over 8,000 units on back order from Toyota right now with no confirmed resolve date in sight. Insurance has been totaling the vehicles in some cases where the proper replacement converter cannot be purchased due to no availability. (This is more of an issue with states that have high emissions standards and regulate which catalytic converters can be purchased – California and Colorado are 2 examples) Most professionals can have the catalytic converter stolen and be gone in less than 4 minutes. The problem is so bad that they are doing it in broad daylight right in front of everyone and because they are so fast it can be extremely hard to catch them.
So, what can I do to protect my vehicle? The short answer is not much unfortunately. There are various companies selling catalytic converter shields and some people are fabricating their own but from what I understand that only makes it take longer but does not always eliminate the threat. I suggest parking in a garage if possible, keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles parked next to yours, do some research to see if there is an option for a theft shield on your specific vehicle and ask your local auto repair shop about installation. Finally, you can contact your local law makers and government officials and voice your concerns about this growing problem. The more they know the more they can help to regulate the purchasing of these stolen converters. This is a worldwide problem that will only be resolved when they regulate the purchasing of the used catalytic converters and the recycled metals. If they would regulate them to only accept metal and converters from professional shops and dealerships the criminals would not have anywhere to sell their product and would start to slow down the problem. Until then we are doing our best to educate the public on the issue and hopefully, we can all be on the look out for these people, maybe we can catch them in the act and help put them behind bars where they belong.
If you or someone you know has been a victim to this crime please start by reporting it to your local police and then call your insurance company and file a claim. From there, call us, we can determine the extent of the damage, help find options suitable for your vehicle and make the proper repairs. We will also help with the insurance process and work with your adjuster to get the problem resolved for you. If you have any questions please reach out to us, we are here to help! CONTACT US .
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