Since 2019, catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed to record highs. However, new state legislation and a decline in the price of precious metals have slowly reduced the number of overall thefts. According to a report by BeenVerified, approximately 26,742 catalytic converters were stolen nationwide during the first six months of 2023, representing a 43% decrease from the same period last year. Despite this downward trend, catalytic converter thefts remain significantly higher than in 2019, which saw only 3,389 thefts nationwide.
Let’s take a closer look at the data to help you better understand the situation and how you can prevent yourself from being a victim of converter theft.
- There were approximately 26,742 catalytic converter thefts during the first six months of 2023, representing a 43% decrease from the same period in 2022.
- California, Texas, New York, and Illinois lead the nation in total catalytic converter thefts so far this year, with 6,988, 2,235, 2,071, and 1,354 thefts, respectively.
- The average cost of rhodium, the most expensive metal found inside most catalytic converters, is around $131/gram. In 2021, rhodium hit an all-time high of $958/gram.
Total Catalytic Converter Thefts by State During First Half of 2023
Although catalytic converter thefts are down compared to 2022, thefts are still significantly higher than in 2019, according to the BeenVerified report. Here’s a rundown of how many catalytic converters were stolen by state during the first six months of 2023 using data from the NICB and BeenVerified.
|State||2023 thefts*||State||2023 thefts*||State||2023 thefts*|
|Iowa||107||New York||2,071||West Virginia||48|
*Number of thefts during the first six months of 2023 according to BeenVerified and the NICB data.
Of all 50 states, California, Texas, and New York have experienced the most catalytic converter thefts this year, with 6,988, 2,235, and 2,071 total thefts, respectively. When comparing thefts per 100,000 registered vehicles in each state, New York came in first place with 11.14 thefts, followed by New Jersey with 9.29 and Delaware with 8.81, according to BeenVerified.
Which Car Models Are More Prone to Converter Theft?
Although every gas-powered car since 1974 is required to have catalytic converters, not all models are targeted the same. Unfortunately for some, a few vehicle types routinely experience greater thefts than others. According to CarFax, these were the top cars targeted for catalytic converter theft in 2022:
|Rank||Make and Model||Rank||Make and Model|
|1||Ford F Series Truck||6||Ford Econoline|
|2||Honda Accord||7||Chevrolet Equinox|
|3||Toyota Prius||8||Chevrolet Silverado|
|4||Honda CR-V||9||Toyota Tacoma|
|5||Ford Explorer||10||Chevrolet Cruze|
Why Do Thieves Routinely Target Catalytic Converters?
Since 2019, catalytic converters have been a popular target for thieves hoping to cash in on the precious metals located inside the car part. A typical catalytic converter will contain varying amounts of platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
Out of all three metals, rhodium is the most expensive. However, the price of these metals has dropped significantly throughout the last few years, which is a potential reason for the decrease in thefts. For example, at the time of this writing, rhodium is worth around $131/gram. In 2021, the metal hit a record all-time high of $958/gram. There are typically 1-2 grams of rhodium alone inside a catalytic converter.
A converter’s location on a vehicle also makes it an easy target. Since it is located on the back underside of the vehicle, it only takes a minute or two and a reciprocating saw to extract the converter from the exhaust pipe. This is why vehicles with higher ground clearance are routinely victims of theft.
How Have States Responded to Catalytic Converter Thefts?
To combat thefts, multiple states have passed legislation that seeks to prevent thefts with increased penalties. Here’s a quick rundown of legislation passed in states with some of the highest reported thefts in the country:
- California – The Golden State passed multiple bills in 2022 that address catalytic converter thefts. For example, SB 1087 limits who can legally sell a catalytic converter, while AB 1750 requires metal recyclers to maintain stricter documentation of when and where they purchased used converters.
- Texas – In Texas, Gov. Abbott has recently signed a bill into law known as the Deputy Darren Almendarez Act, which creates new criminal penalties for thefts and allows prosecutors to treat thefts as organized crime. The bill is named after a deputy who lost their life attempting to stop a converter theft.
- New Jersey – New Jersey has followed similar steps as California with S249/A2210 by increasing the documentation metal recyclers must adhere to when purchasing used converters.
What You Can Do to Help Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft
According to the NICB, making it difficult for thieves to access your vehicle’s catalytic converter is the best way to prevent theft. Here are a few tips to follow:
- Install an anti-theft device – Some auto shops have begun installing steel plates or cages around catalytic converts, significantly increasing the work required to steal them. Additionally, vibration-sensitive car alarms can cause a potential thief to think twice.
- Park strategically – It is wise to park your car inside a garage or secured lot whenever possible. If you have a driveway, consider backing into your space so your car’s backend isn’t towards the street. Motion-activated lights can also scare a thief from initiating the crime.
- Vin Etching – Keep an eye out for local law enforcement or city-sponsored events that provide free VIN etching onto your catalytic converter. Etching your car’s VIN onto your catalytic converter can make it easier to trace a loose converter back to your car. Additionally, thanks to new legislation in some states, thieves cannot sell an etched converter that they cannot prove came from their own vehicle.
Keep Yourself Protected with Comprehensive Insurance
If your catalytic converter is stolen, you’ll need comprehensive insurance to file a claim for a replacement. Comprehensive coverage isn’t legally required in any state, but your lender may require it if you lease or finance a car. If you’re searching for comprehensive coverage, our insurance specialists can help. With AIS, you can compare rates from our network of trusted insurance partners. Call us today at (888) 772-4247, or start a quote online to get started.
The information in this article is obtained from various sources and is offered for educational purposes. Furthermore, it should not replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.