The number of reported catalytic converter thefts rose from 1,300 in 2018 to more than 52,000 in 2021 — a staggering 1,215% increase, according to data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
Catalytic converter thefts have seen a “significant increase” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NICB said.
“There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources, and disruption of the supply chain that drives investors towards these precious metals,” NICB said in a news release.
A catalytic converter is a device essential to a vehicle’s exhaust system. Its purpose is to convert toxic exhaust emitted by an engine into more environmentally friendly gases.
Thieves steal converters for their valuable metals that turn a quick profit.
Here are the top targets for thieves nationwide, according to CARFAX.
- 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
How are the catalytic converters stolen?
All vehicles manufactured after 1974 contain a catalytic converter. Hoping to obtain and sell its high-in-demand metals, criminals often use a jack and an angle grinder to steal catalytic converters in minutes.
The brazen crime comes at a high cost for vehicle owners. Many miss work, encounter transportation hardship and pay $1,000 to $3,000 out of pocket to fix their vehicle.
- Park in areas where your vehicle will be seen most easily by pedestrians. For example, park vehicles in secured, alarmed, and well-lit areas
- Park defensively: Park high-profile vehicles so they are surrounded by low ground-clearance vehicles. This may deter thieves by making it harder for them to access the most vulnerable targets
- Install a catalytic converter protection device that will clamp around the converter