Auto parts theft epidemic targets your catalytic converter


If you drive a Toyota Prius, Subaru Forester or Honda Element, auto experts advise you to keep an extra eye out for this specific car part which has seen a 1,215% increase in thefts since 2019.

“It’s an epidemic,” Joe’s Expert Auto owner Joe Betancourt told FOX Business’ Grady Trimble on Thursday. “We will finish three [vehicles], and five will appear. It’s just scary right now.”

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, more than 52,000 catalytic converters were stolen in 2021, up 1,215% from 2019. The primary function of the auto part is to convert environmentally harmful gases from the engine into less harmful gases.


Low-emission cars like Toyota Priuses, Subaru Foresters and Honda Elements are primarily targeted due to higher concentrations of precious metals inside converters.

Ravenswood resident Alex Cheser noticed his Prius was much louder after relatives stayed with him on a recent weekend. He let them park in his garage. He parked on the street. After they left, as he walked back into the garage, he heard the problem.

“My Prius went from being very quiet to being like a motorcycle,” Cheser said.

The next day, Cheser filed a police report. He is far from alone.


The NICB says these metals sell for thousands of dollars an ounce; a thief might get $50 to $250 for a converter at a recycling center.

For vehicle models with dual catalytic converters, like a Jeep Liberty, scammers can earn double the pay while owners end up with a $4,000 repair, the Chicago auto expert explained.

“There are [sic] three precious metals in them, and one of them, rhodium, it’s almost at $14,000 an ounce,” Betancourt said. “There is usually between 3 and 7 grams of charge in these vehicles, so do the math.

ExperTec Automotive technician Armando Garcia engraves a catalytic converter with the license plate number of cars in Huntington Beach on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. The free utility service, sponsored by local police departments, was intended to deter theft. VS (Mindy Schauer/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images/Getty Images)

The Chicago Police Department’s 14th Precinct, which serves the Logan Square and Wicker Park area, offered car owners to paint their catalytic converters a bright color, to make it easier to identify and retrieve the part. stolen.

“I don’t see how that’s going to stop anyone,” Betancourt explained, “but that’s just me. I might be wrong.”

People who reside in the neighborhood — bounded roughly by Division Street to the south, Belmont Avenue to the north, the Chicago River to the east, and Central Park Avenue to the west — can participate.

On September 11, residents of the district can visit Moos Elementary School, 1711 N. California Ave., beginning at 10 a.m., where officers will paint the converters using neon pink paint and also mark them with “Chicago Police 014”. The idea is to deter theft by making converters harder to resell.

A catalytic converter theft deterrent event was held on Saturday, August 20 in Niles, Illinois. (Niles Police Department)

A CPD spokesperson said the 14th District Community Policing Office met with residents to discuss the issue, and the idea to paint and mark the converters came from a resident who saw other police departments do something similar.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau recorded 52,206 reported incidents of catalytic converter theft in 2021, up 1,215% since 2019 and 203% since 2020.

A spokesperson for the insurance bureau said many owners don’t bother to report catalytic converter thefts because they can’t afford the $1,500 to $5,000 replacement cost and don’t have no comprehensive coverage, which would pay for the loss.

To deter thieves, the NICB advises vehicle owners to install an anti-theft device – essentially a cage mounted around the converter – and to park in well-lit areas when possible.

Betancourt is a “big proponent” of installing catalytic converter shields that use security screws to slow time-of-flight for scammers.

“It mainly slows them down,” the automotive expert pointed out. “They have three minutes to make a car, they don’t want to spend 15-20 minutes.”

After his experience, Cheser said he was considering a cage, but he hopes to see state or federal legislation regulating or prohibiting the resale of catalytic converters.

“It looks like it’s only going up,” Cheser said. “It can hit people at a really terrible time where they need reliable transportation and then have to turn to public transit, which is sometimes unreliable.”

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The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.


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