Catalytic Converter | Increase of Thefts Could Drain Coloradoans' Wallets

2022-05-21 03:27:53 By : Ms. Ann Wang

Law Enforcement Agencies Stress Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention Tips

Imagine getting into your vehicle, which has been in the office parking lot all day, after a hard day’s work to suddenly notice a loud, rattling noise once you start their engine. When you press on the accelerator, the noise gets louder, and it is obvious the sound is coming from underneath the car.

When the sounds of an engine suddenly change after a vehicle has been parked in the outdoors unprotected, there is a good chance the automobile’s catalytic converter has been stolen.

In fact, according to a study published by, the state of Colorado has seen an enormous increase in cases of catalytic converter theft over the past few years. In 2019, the number of cases of emission system component theft were in the mid-20s and then in 2021, the number of recorded thefts of that nature skyrocketed to over 2,000 statewide.

Between 2020 and 2021, Colorado saw the biggest percentage increase in catalytic converter theft than any other state in the U.S.

The stats provided on the Colorado Springs Police Department’s (CSPD) website report that theft from motor vehicles has been the most common crime against property for the last three years. The city’s numbers also show that cases of destruction/vandalism of property have increased from just over 2,800 in 2019 to over 7,400 in 2021.

According to Detective Stinson with the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Sand Creek Division, the city has followed the trends the rest of the state has over the last three years. “In 2019, CSPD as a department had three catalytic converter theft cases,” Stinson said. “In 2020, we had 63. And in 2021, we had 423. So you can see it has been a rapidly increasing problem due to the value of the metal of the converters themselves.”

Most non-criminals ask, “Why steal a car’s catalytic converter?” Besides, selling stolen exhaust parts on eBay to be used in another vehicle really wouldn’t be a big pay off, and it could raise some legal red flags.

But it’s the precious metals inside catalytic converters that create a thief’s lust for sawing off parts of the exhaust on random vehicles.

According to Sandy Blalock, the International President of the Automotive Recycling Association, the prices of catalytic converters peaked about a year and a half ago, but the price of the parts themselves have been dropping.

“There are precious metals inside those catalytic converters that are worth a lot of money,” Blalock said. “In particular, there are platinum, palladium and rhodium. You have rhodium trading right now at close to $20,000 an ounce.”

She said that there are plenty of places where thieves can sell stolen catalytic converters including metal recycling places and plants that can extract the metal from them. She also said that since auto salvage companies are in the business of purchasing whole cars and selling the parts, those businesses often become victims of theft and are not purchasing stolen parts.

Once a catalytic converter is stolen from a car, it can be difficult and expensive to replace. “For just about any part on a car there are supply chain issues,” Blalock said. “But when you have something that’s a targeted part like a catalytic converter that’s being stolen, then you might have to wait weeks for anybody to get a part. That means you are out of your car for a week, so it is definitely a big problem for everyone.”

The president of the Automotive Recycling Association also said that it is difficult to prevent the theft of catalytic converters because thieves that know what they are doing can have one off very quickly. She said that the safest thing to do is to always park vehicles in a locked garage.

Det. Stinson agreed that the theft of the converters is hard to prevent. There are some preventative measures car owners can take, but none of them are fool proof. He said motorists can park in well-lit parking lots or they can purchase rebar cages that can be welded around catalytic converters. The detective also said that some people choose to etch a number onto their converters so they can be tracked.

Earlier this month the Teller County Sheriff’s Office posted on social media warning residents of the increase of catalytic converter theft. The sheriff’s office offered the following prevention tips.

The Maverick Observer is an online free-thinking publication interested in the happenings in our region. We launched in February 2020 to hold our politicians and businesses accountable. We hope to educate, inform, entertain, and infuse you with a sense of community.

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