Catalytic converter thefts have increased sharply due to skyrocketing value of the precious metals they are made with

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Bing: Image of catalytic converter

Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise with the most targeted vehicle being the Toyota Prius, according the Chicago Tribune who did an extensive study of the problem.   The Prius' catalytic converter components can literally be worth than the value of gold.

The Prius doesn't generate emissions when it runs in electric mode, so produces a cleaner catalytic converter with cleaner metals inside.

In case you don't know what a catalytic converter is, it's part of a vehicle's exhaust system that converts pollution from car exhaust into less harmful gaseous emissions.

According to their story, the Tribune reports that Palladium valued at $1,000 an ounce in 2018 is about $2,900 this year.  Rhodium went from $4,000 an ounce to about $25,000 - yes, that is correct - it's not a typo.  That's more than six times what it was valued at just three years ago.

The value of metals found in catalytic converters have skyrocketed during the past several years making them a profitable economy for criminals and theft rings.  A "cat" can fetch $50 to $250 per device from a scrap yard.  Independent auto shops and garages will also buy catalytic converters.  One report by Kiro7 disclosed the sales of Prius catalytic converter's going for $1,000 or more by a Washington recycling company.

Bankrolling the proceeds of this kind of theft creates a golden opportunity to grow a lucrative business in short order for thieves and gangs.  These cats have reportedly been found to be selling out of state and even overseas. 

The ease of removing catalytic converters starts with basic battery-operated tools found from local hardware stores.  A cordless saw that cuts off the catalytic converter from underneath the car may take less than a minute to do.

If you find your car is running loud all of a sudden when you turn the engine on with the noise getting louder as you apply the gas, there is a good chance you might have been a victim of catalytic converter theft.

It may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 to repair a vehicle whose catalytic converter was stolen, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The pandemic has increased auto crimes including catalytic converter thefts.  Raw shortages of these precious metals due to closing mines in South Africa and Russia, as well as China's increasing needs for cats are some reasons there is a high demand for them, as reported by Kiro7 news.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported monthly catalytic converter thefts across the U.S. as having risen from 134 in 2019 to 2,347 in 2020.  Kiro7 reported cat thefts in Seattle rose more than 1,000 percent between 2019 and 2021.  In February of this year 18 states have been evaluating the possibility of enacting legislation to curb problems of theft, however Washington wasn't on NICB's list but did enact laws in 2013 that documentation was required in the sales of metal recycling.

The Bellevue Beat Blog provides prevention tips to avoid having your vehicle's catalytic converter stolen:

- Park your car in well-lit areas

- Park your car close to building entrances in public parking lots or near the access road

- Parking vehicles in garages with closed garage doors

- Installing anti-theft devices that attach to the catalytic converter

- Installing motions sensor security lights

- Installing car alarms

- Engrave your car's VIN number or license plate number onto the catalytic converter

Please contact the Bellevue Police Department at (425) 452-6917 or Detective Sergeant Disney (425) 452-4156 if you have specific information regarding a recent catalytic converter theft.


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