Triple-I Weblog | Catalytic Converter Thefts Up, Spurring Motion from Lawmakers

By Max Dorfman, Analysis Author, Triple-I

Rising thefts of catalytic converters – pushed, at the very least partially, by elevated black-market costs for the motorized vehicle pollution-control part – 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 keeping with claims information from the Nationwide Insurance coverage Crime Bureau (NICB). Catalytic converters are a part of a automobile’s exhaust system, decreasing poisonous gasoline and pollution and turning them into secure emissions. Although the half itself is effective—sometimes rising above $1,000 each on the black-market—the valuable metals inside will be extra worthwhile than gold. They embody palladium, platinum, and rhodium, the latter of which is valued at $20,000 per ounce.

The NICB has discovered a powerful 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 steel refinery for tens of tens of millions of {dollars}. The ring spanned 9 states, from California to Virginia. The USA is now pursuing forfeiture of $545 million related to the case.

“This nationwide community of criminals damage victims throughout the nation,” mentioned FBI Director Christopher Wray. “They made lots of of tens of millions of {dollars} within the course of—on the backs of hundreds of harmless automotive house owners.”

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 steel patrons 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 tackle 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 particular person’s motorized vehicle, or knowingly purchases such a catalytic converter, with the intent to distribute, promote, or get rid of such catalytic converter or any valuable steel eliminated therefrom in interstate or international commerce shall be fined below 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 will be taken

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

  • Set up a catalytic converter anti-theft gadget.
  • Park fleet vehicles in an enclosed space that’s secured, effectively lighted, locked and alarmed. 
  • Park private automobiles, if potential, in a storage. If not potential and the automobile should be parked in a driveway, take into account putting in movement sensor safety lights. Whether or not within the storage or outdoors within the driveway, set the alarm in your automobile if geared up.
  • Attend a neighborhood NICB catalytic converter etching event. If none are at present 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 will be coated by insurance coverage below the non-obligatory complete portion of your insurance coverage coverage, which supplies protection for injury to your automobile not brought on by a collision.