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Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise. Here's what to do if you become a victim

Posted at 12:51 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 13:56:32-05

The Waco Police Department issued a warning about the increase in catalytic converter thefts statewide.

Waco detectives were working on more than 100 active cases of catalytic converter thefts, according to their Facebook post.

Here's some information on catalytic converters and what to do if you become a victim.

Why would thieves target catalytic converters?

Catalytic converters contain platinum, rhodium and palladium. The metals are expensive, and thieves sell the converters to scrap yards for $150 to $200 per piece depending on the size of the converter and the current rate on the metals inside it, according to The Spruce.

The rate of catalytic converter theft varies depending on the current prices of the metals inside it.

The price increase of the metals typically result in an increase in thefts.

Thieves often target taller vehicles like pickup trucks or SUVs because they can easily fit under the vehicle to access the catalytic converter, according to The Spruce.

How do you know if your catalytic converter was stolen?

It's hard to tell if your catalytic converter was stolen just by looking at your vehicle. However, you'll know when you start the engine.

Your vehicle may make a loud rumbling sound when you turn on the engine that gets louder when you hit the gas if your catalytic converter is missing, according to The Spruce.

"The exhaust is not working properly, so the vehicle also drives rougher than usual, often with a sense of sputtering as you change speed," The Spruce said.

If you suspect your catalytic converter is stolen, go to the back of your vehicle and look underneath.

"The catalytic converter is a round canister that connects two pieces of piping in the exhaust. You will see a gaping space in the middle of your exhaust if the converter is missing, and you will likely see signs of the piping being cut away."

Toxic fumes will likely be easy to smell without it, too, according to the Balance.

How can you prevent catalytic converter theft?

Try to make it a habit to park in well-lit areas.

Keep your car in a garage with the door closed when the vehicle is not in use if possible.

Parking close to a building entrance when parking in a public lot may also help prevent thefts as there is more pedestrian traffic in that area.

Remember that the location of your car may also be a factor.

If you are regularly parking in one area for a long period of time, such as a shopping mall or mass commuter parking lot, thieves have more time to access your vehicle and steal the catalytic converter, according to the Balance.

You can consider engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter which may help alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen and make it easier to identify the owner, according to The Spruce.

Another tip is to try calibrating your car's alarm to set off when it detects vibration.

What do you do if your catalytic converter has been stolen?

If you are a victim of this type of theft, immediately notify the police department so the case can be documented.

If you have your VIN number engraved on the device, give them that number as well.

The Spruce recommends calling local scrap yards to inform them of the theft, especially if there is an engraved number on the converter that they can verify.

You can also give them your phone number so you are notified in case your converter shows up at a scrap shop.