catalytic convertersThe New York City Police Department is warning the public of a crime trend involving thieves cutting and stealing catalytic converters from the underbelly of a vehicle.

Since 1975, all vehicles produced in the United States are equipped with a catalytic converter, an emissions-control device that contains precious metals that act as catalysts. When hot exhaust enters the converter, a chemical reaction occurs that renders toxic gases into less harmful emissions.

However, now, with the price of precious metals skyrocketing, thieves are helping themselves to catalytic converters that contain enough platinum, palladium or rhodium to make it worth the risk. Stolen catalytic converters are sold to scrap yards for $100 – $150.

You might become aware that your catalytic converter has been stolen when your vehicle starts with a gravelly roar.

The Cost to YOU of Catalytic Converter Theft

The cost to the victim of a stolen converter is the hassle of a vehicle that cannot be driven safely, as well as the expense of having it towed to a local repair shop and getting the part replaced.

What Do Thieves Look For?

Catalytic converter thefts typically happen to vehicles that are parked for prolonged periods in large lots, such as shopping centers, mass transit commuter lots or company parking lots.

Vehicles that sit higher from the ground, such as trucks, pick-ups and SUVs, are particularly vulnerable to catalytic converter theft because thieves can slide underneath without having to jack up the vehicle to gain access to the converter. With just a few cuts of a battery-powered saw, the catalytic converter can be stolen in less than a minute.

To prevent catalytic converter theft, follow one or more of these tips:

  • Always park in well-lighted areas
  • At shopping centers and other similar parking lots, park close to the entrance of the building or near the access road where there’s a lot of traffic
  • If you own or work at a business or factory, park within a fenced area that’s busy during the day and secured at night
  • Engrave your license plate number on the converter to make it traceable
  • Purchase a vehicle security system and make sure it’s set to trigger with just the slightest motion
  • Visit a local muffler shop and have the converter secured to the vehicle’s frame with a hardened steel welded to the frame
  • Examine the different types of catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts store or online

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