Thieves Can’t Wait to Steal This Part of Your Car

Car thief
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When precious metals prices surge, anyone who owns a car should turn extra cautious.

Although the connection between higher platinum, palladium or rhodium prices and rising car crime might not be obvious, it boils down to a part of your vehicle known as a catalytic converter.

This component — which takes potentially environmentally harmful exhaust and converts it to gasses that are more benign — is in the crosshairs of thieves everywhere, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The NICB says catalytic converters are a magnet for thieves because the three metals mentioned above — platinum, palladium and rhodium — can be found in this part that looks like a small muffler. According to the NICB:

“The values of the precious metals contained inside catalytic converters today is staggering. As of [March 2022], rhodium sits at $20,000 per ounce; palladium at $2,938 per ounce; and platinum at $1,128 per ounce according to kitco.com.”

Recyclers usually pay $50 to $250 per catalytic converter, the NICB says.

Thefts have been skyrocketing in recent years. In 2018, 1,298 insurance claims were filed for stolen catalytic converters. By 2020, that number had jumped to 14,433.

Preventing the theft of catalytic converters isn’t easy. Thieves who know what they are doing can use readily available tools to remove the converter in mere minutes. If this happens to you, expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 to have your car repaired.

However, there are things drivers can do to lower their risk of becoming a victim, the NICB says. For example, anti-theft devices are available that can make it more difficult for criminals to take off with your catalytic converter.

Also, parking your car in the garage will significantly lower the risk of theft. If you cannot do so, installing motion sensor security lights can help.

The NICB also suggests attending a catalytic converter etching event or contacting a local muffler shop to see if it will:

  • Etch your vehicle’s VIN on the converter.
  • Spray the converter with a high-heat paint.

Doing this helps law enforcement track stolen converters and improves the odds of catching the crooks.

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