Crime of opportunity: How to protect yourself from catalytic converter theft

Posted at 11:50 AM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 18:24:28-05

WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — If you’ve ever had a catalytic converter stolen, you’ll know it quickly because you can't mistake that sound.

Garrison says someone stole the catalytic converter from her car about two weeks ago.

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The device is made of precious metals: rhodium, platinum and palladium. It is part of the exhaust system and controls pollution.

Garrison noticed the noise and discovered the theft when leaving for work from her home in Warren.

Anita Fox, director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, said catalytic converter theft is a real problem when speaking with the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

“Unfortunately, thieves have discovered that they have value,” Fox said.

According to this NICB lab, catalytic converter theft skyrocketed in 2020.

A month ago, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Michigan announced it was a victim of catalytic converter theft six times.

Goodwill said all six of it vehicles, used to transport people with disabilities, were targeted.

It’s considered a crime of opportunity that happens at all hours of the day and is becoming all too common for local police departments.

So, what can be done, if anything, in the way of prevention?

If you park on the street and in parking lots, Fox says there are anti-theft catalytic converter devices.

If you have a garage, park your vehicle inside. That, of course, isn’t an option for everyone.

“If you have to park in your driveway, install a motion sensor security light. That might deter from someone from being there,” Fox said. “Another thing you can do is, there are some services that will etch your vin number into the catalytic converter, making it less attractive for somebody to pull out and sell.”

If that happens, she says a call to law enforcement and your insurer may be the two next best moves.

For people looking to make money by stealing catalytic converters, Garrison said they should seek other options and think of others.

“I'd probably just tell them that they can put their efforts into other things and probably make more money, and just think about other people,” Garrison said. "Some people, they don't have the money or the means or know anyone that can fix it. So, it really puts a dent in their life,"

Garrison says with the help of loved ones who are mechanics, she did a fix called a straight pipe, which is less expensive than replacing her catalytic converter.