Triple-I Blog | Catalytic Converter Thefts Up, Spurring Action from Lawmakers


By Max Dorfman, Analysis Author, Triple-I

Rising thefts of catalytic converters – pushed, not less than partially, by elevated black-market costs for the motorcar pollution-control element – have prompted renewed state and federal deal with stopping these crimes.

Converter thefts rose in 2021, with 52,206 reported, up from 1,298 in 2018, in accordance with claims information from the Nationwide Insurance coverage Crime Bureau (NICB). Catalytic converters are a part of a automobile’s exhaust system, lowering poisonous gasoline and pollution and turning them into protected emissions. Although the half itself is efficacious—sometimes rising above $1,000 each on the black-market—the dear metals inside could be extra priceless than gold. They embody palladium, platinum, and rhodium, the latter of which is valued at $20,000 per ounce.

The NICB has discovered a robust hyperlink between “occasions of disaster, restricted sources, and disruption of the provision chain that drives these thefts.”

In late 2022, the U.S. Division of Justice, alongside federal, state, and native regulation enforcement companions, broke up a network of thieves, sellers, and processors concerned in promoting stolen catalytic converters to a metallic refinery for tens of tens of millions of {dollars}. The ring spanned 9 states, from California to Virginia. America is now pursuing forfeiture of $545 million related to the case.

“This nationwide community of criminals harm victims throughout the nation,” stated FBI Director Christopher Wray. “They made lots of of tens of millions of {dollars} within the course of—on the backs of 1000’s of harmless automobile homeowners.”

Lawmakers take discover

In 2021, 26 states throughout the U.S. proposed payments to restrict the theft of catalytic converters. Stringent legal guidelines in Arkansas, South Carolina, and Texas require scrap metallic consumers to keep up information of catalytic converter purchases. In Minnesota, a Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention Program was created for investigation and prosecution of this crime.

Extra just lately, U.S. Rep. Jim Baird of Indiana launched a federal “Preventing Auto Recycling Theft Act,” which might assist regulation enforcement deal with these thefts by marking every converter with a traceable identification quantity and establishing federal penalties.

“Whoever steals or knowingly and unlawfully takes, carries away, or conceals a catalytic converter from one other individual’s motorcar, or knowingly purchases such a catalytic converter, with the intent to distribute, promote, or get rid of such catalytic converter or any valuable metallic eliminated therefrom in interstate or international commerce shall be fined underneath this title or imprisoned no more than 5 years, or each,” the laws says.

Companion laws has been launched within the Senate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Preventive measures could be taken

The NICB recommends a number of steps to guard your self from catalytic converter thefts:

  • Set up a catalytic converter anti-theft system.
  • Park fleet vehicles in an enclosed space that’s secured, effectively lighted, locked and alarmed. 
  • Park private automobiles, if attainable, in a storage. If not attainable and the automobile should be parked in a driveway, contemplate putting in movement sensor safety lights. Whether or not within the storage or exterior within the driveway, set the alarm in your automobile if outfitted.
  • Attend a neighborhood NICB catalytic converter etching event. If none are at the moment scheduled in your space, contact a muffler store that may etch your automobile’s VIN on the converter, and spray it with a extremely seen high-heat paint.

The NICB notes that these thefts could be lined by insurance coverage underneath the non-compulsory complete portion of your insurance coverage coverage, which gives protection for injury to your automobile not attributable to a collision.

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