Criminals and Catalytic Converters

The incidence of catalytic converter theft continues to rise throughout the country, burdening organizations with thousands of dollars of replacement and repair costs. BeenVerified estimates these types of thefts increased by 353% in 2021, and Washington state remains among the top 10 states continuing to experience the highest rates of crime. Please take a few moments to review the following information and use it to protect both your fleet and drivers from catalytic converter theft this year.

What is a catalytic converter, and why are they being stolen?

Catalytic converters reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality, and contain various precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium. They are attractive to thieves because they are easy to steal from a vehicle’s vulnerable undercarriage, and not many converters are needed in order to collect lucrative amounts of these precious metals. An experienced thief can slide underneath a vehicle, “surgically remove” the converter, and walk away with it hidden in a duffel bag in a matter of minutes.

How do I protect my fleet from catalytic converter theft?

Make your vehicles difficult targets.

When a vehicle is not in use, park it in a secure garage, or a heavily fenced and well-lit outdoor lot. If possible, take steps to visually reinforce the impression of ownership and surveillance at these locations by posting no trespassing signs, cameras, fencing, locks, outdoor lighting, and other measures that are standard deterrents to all but the most serious thieves and vandals.

Install high-quality surveillance equipment.

Make sure all your parking and garage facilities are under adequate surveillance during off-hours. Procure equipment that can capture footage in darkness in case a thief tampers with your facility’s lights before getting to work.

Make your converters difficult to remove.

Installing a safeguard such as a catalytic converter lock or other deterrent can be a great way to ensure protection regardless of the vehicle’s location. Converters are not simply vulnerable when garaged – they are known to have been stolen even when vehicles are parked in a public place in the middle of the day.

When this happens, an unsuspecting driver could be at risk when attempting to operate the vehicle as normal, unaware that damage to the brake lines and other crucial systems may have occurred during their absence. While these devices don’t guarantee safety their very presence can go a long way in preventing a theft from occurring, as most thieves rely on speed as a major factor in a successful getaway.

Please note that the products depicted in the links above have not been tested or vetted by Clear Risk Solutions – they are listed simply as examples of products currently on the market. Consult with your mechanic and/or vehicle manufacturer to determine which add-ons may be suitable and ensure that doing so will not impact any pre-existing vehicle warranties.

Engrave identifying information on your converter.

The presence of your vehicle’s VIN or license plate number makes it much easier for law enforcement to track a stolen converter down, especially if they encounter it in the possession of suspected criminals. Likewise, legitimate automotive parts dealers will likely be able to recognize the converter as stolen and report it if a thief tries to resell it.

Paint your converter.

A bright, “high-temperature” paint, such as hot pink, can also be a signal to automotive part dealers and other vendors that the converter has been stolen. In addition, while an engraving can be sanded off with the right equipment, stripping an entire converter of a highly visible paint is much more time consuming and difficult endeavor.

Remember, while these measures may not necessarily prevent a theft from occurring, any efforts to make your converters less vulnerable, less appealing targets, or more difficult to resell are great ways to prevent this type of loss for your organization. For more information regarding catalytic converters, please contact your broker or risk manager.

Information for this article was taken from the following sources:

NU Property Casualty 360These states saw a surge in catalytic converter thefts

Been Verified: Catalytic Converter Thefts More than Quadrupled Last Year

National Insurance Crime BureauCatalytic Converter Theft Skyrocketing Nationwide

Money MetalsRhodium Prices