As catalytic converter thefts increase, local authorities have offered tips to help drivers avoid becoming the next victim.
Stealing a catalytic converter can usually happen in just a few minutes with a cordless saw or wrench, according to the Dallas County Sheriff's Department.
Nationwide, there were an average of 1,203 catalytic converter thefts per month in 2020 — up drastically from 108 per month in 2018 and 282 in 2019, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
In Dallas alone, there have been 800 catalytic converter thefts this year with 300 in the last two months, the sheriff's department said, citing Dallas Police Department statistics.
Catalytic converters help your vehicle reduce pollutants that your car creates, but thieves like to steal them because of the precious metals they contain, including rhodium, platinum, and palladium. These can be sold as scrap metals.
A person may not be able to tell their catalytic converter has been stolen by looking at their car, but will hear a roar that increases as the gas pedal is pushed down, the sheriff's department said.
Any vehicle made after 1974 is required to have a catalytic converter, but trucks and SUV's are the most common targets because they are easiest to slide under, the sheriff's department said.
The North Texas Auto Theft Task Force has offered several tips to help prevent your vehicle from becoming the next target:
- Park your car in the garage or a lighted area near an entrance.
- Consider having your catalytic converter welded onto the car frame.
- Consider buying security features such as catalytic converter locks for your vehicle.
- Engrave your vehicle's VIN on the catalytic converter.
- Explore your car alarm capabilities.
- Paint the converter a bright high-temperature paint. This lets law enforcement know that the converter has been marked. This paint signals law enforcement and recyclers to look deeper for serial numbers or identification marks.
If your catalytic converter is stolen, contact the police and then your insurance provider.