Insurance claims for catalytic converter thefts nationwide jumped 288% in just two years, the National Insurance Crime Bureau said in a new report.
Claims increased from 16,660 in 2020 to 64,701 in 2022. Half of the thefts were in California and Texas, the bureau found.
“This new data is just a snapshot of an underreported crime affecting communities across the country,” NICB President David Glawe said in a statement. “While a catalytic converter can be removed in just a few minutes, for vehicle owners, the cost is more than just replacement parts. Victims must find alternative transportation, schedule necessary repairs , and may lose their jobs as a result.”
Mandated in the US since 1975, catalytic converters help neutralize harmful engine exhaust gases that contribute to air pollution, and contain platinum, rhodium, and palladium, rare earth metals that are more valuable than gold, the NICB said.
The shoebox-sized devices are placed under cars or trucks as part of the exhaust system. Metals recyclers pay between $50 to $250 for a catalytic converter and up to $800 for one taken from a hybrid car.
It can cost between $1,000 and $3,500 or more to replace a stolen catalytic converter, depending on the type of car.
As thefts skyrocket, lawmakers across the country are toughening penalties and placing new restrictions on recyclers. The NICB says 31 bills will be enacted by 2022. So far in 2023, 94 bills are being tracked in 39 states, and 12 measures have passed, including one in Florida.
To prevent theft, the bureau urges drivers to park in well-lit areas or areas monitored by cameras, install anti-theft guards on converters, and etch the identification number in the device auto.
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