Theft of catalytic converters, the part of a car’s exhaust system that changes toxic gases to less-harmful emissions, is surging, with cases making a particularly sharp increase in 2021, Cronkite News reports. Reported thefts in Arizona have grown from 30 in 2019 to 142 in 2020 before skyrocketing to 1,501 through the end of September. Nationwide, there were 49,611 converter thefts through the first nine months of the year, up two hundred forty four percent from 14,433 stolen through all of 2020. In terms of overall thefts, The top six states in reported thefts were California, Texas, Washington, Minnesota, Colorado and Arizona.
David Glawe of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, said that the rise in theft is a result of the increased value in the metals contained in the converters, such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. “Right now – due to the COVID-19 pandemic – the supply chain and the mining of these precious metals is difficult, which has caused the price to go up exponentially over the last year,” Glawe said. Federal regulations have effectively required catalytic converters on all cars for decades. If one is stolen, Glawe said, it can cost up to $2,000 to install a new one, while thieves can get $150 to $200 per converter.