Catalytic Converter Theft Statistics
According to data compiled by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), reported catalytic converter thefts jumped from 1,298 in 2018 to 14,433 in 2020. And this trend is still gaining speed. In the first half of 2022, the automotive insurance provider State Farm received more than 23,000 catalytic converter theft claims.
This national crime spree has drawn the attention of local law enforcement, as well as federal investigations. In November 2022, the U.S. Justice Department released information on the bust of a multimillion-dollar catalytic converters theft network. Arrests, searches and seizures took place in California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia.
California accounts for nearly 25% of insurance claims for theft of catalytic converters followed by Texas with nearly 14% of claims. Approximately 1,600 catalytic converters are reportedly stolen in California each month. However, vehicle owners across the country must prepare ahead of time to prevent catalytic converters from getting stolen.
On December 9, 2022, the Glenwood Police Department busted a ‘chop shop’ in a suburb south of Chicago. They seized 128 stolen catalytic converters worth approximately $54,000. In the stash were several reciprocating saws, which are used by thieves to detach a catalytic converter in less than a minute.
Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft
To prevent catalytic converter theft, crime experts recommend parking your vehicle inside a secure garage or in a well-lit area. But that isn’t always possible, especially for work vehicles. Sure, an alarm system might help deter someone from quietly breaking into your vehicle for valuables, but a criminal ring willing to operate an electric reciprocating saw at night in a suburban neighborhood is most likely not scared away by an annoying alarm.
Because fleet vehicles like cargo vans and heavy-duty pickup trucks sit higher, they are often the target of catalytic converter theft. However, reports show that standard commuter hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, Lexus RX and Honda Jazz, have the highest number of cases of catalytic converters getting stolen. Fortunately, The NAPA Network is here to help with catalytic converter theft prevention.
A catalytic converter is a metal device designed to reduce harmful emissions and gases, such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and other air pollutants. On a standard combustion engine, this required part converts toxic fumes into safe gases through a chemical reaction. On the inside, catalytic converters are lined with tiny pores that are coated with platinum, rhodium or palladium. These precious metals are what makes a premium catalytic converter worth more than $1,000 on the black market at junk yards.
For the best catalytic converter theft protection, the NAPA experts recommend installing the CatClamp Catalytic Converter Lock. Built from heavy-duty metal wire, the cage of your CatClamp is unbreakable by design. Choose either the Standard Model with a 1-Year Warranty or the Stainless Steel MAXX Model with a Lifetime Warranty. Both versions are manufactured in the United States.
This easy-to-install catalytic converter theft deterrent product fits almost any gas-powered vehicle, including RVs. The durable metal rope can loop around your converter in as many as eight different points. Keep in mind, your CatClamp cables must route through a permanent (non-moving) component of your vehicle. While this catalytic converter anti-theft device can cost a couple hundred dollars, installing a replacement catalytic converter can cost thousands of dollars between the purchase of the part and the professional labor required.
Signs of a Stolen Catalytic Converter
Signs that your catalytic converter was stolen include a loud noise coming from your open exhaust, sluggish acceleration, dark smoke expelling from your tailpipe or the smell of rotten eggs coming from underneath your vehicle. If you notice any of these signs, investigate further. Driving a vehicle without a catalytic converter is illegal, unless the age of your vehicle makes it exempt. Without a catalytic converter, your vehicle will not pass the required annual emission test.
Operating a vehicle with no catalytic converter also means hot, dangerous gas is released under your car, which heats up sensitive components and exposes passengers to carbon monoxide. That’s why many car owners place an anti-theft device for catalytic converters on each of their gas-powered vehicles.
Keep in mind, all-electric vehicles, which consume no gasoline or diesel and plug into electric sockets to replenish their batteries, are the only vehicles on the road today that do not have and do not need a catalytic converter. But for all other vehicles, including standard hybrids and plug-in hybrids, NAPA is your one-stop-shop for all the exhaust replacement parts you need, as well as upgrades to your fuel and emission systems.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA Auto Parts Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.