If you have trucks, SUVs, or hybrids in your fleet, be warned: It takes less than two minutes for a thief to slide under a vehicle and steel the catalytic converter. As if the pandemic hasn’t been cataclysmal enough, theft rates across the U.S. and Canada for catalytic converters have catapulted exponentially in the last year and continue to climb.
The thieves are after the precious metals used in the devices to convert harmful pollutants into less harmful emissions. Today, these metals are selling for a pretty penny:
Unscrupulous scrappers who cater to the thieves will buy the stolen catalytic converters for somewhere between a few Jacksons and a few Benjamins each. The scrappers extract the metals and melt them down; that’s where the big money is.
For the thieves to earn a big payout, they look for easy targets – parking lots full of vehicles and low traffic. Company vehicle pools at night are prime, where the thieves know nobody will be coming for the vehicles until morning. They’ll go right down the row, hitting as many vehicles as they can in a short amount of time.
Trucks and SUVs have higher ground clearance, which makes sliding in and out from under the vehicles fast and easy. Categorically, catalytic converters from hybrids garner more money since they have less wear than internal combustion engine-only models.
A vehicle without a catalytic converter is drivable, and diagnosis will be fast. The lack of the catalytic converter makes the vehicle exhaust roar so loud that the mechanic will hear it before the vehicle pulls into the shop. Then you’ll find yourself facing upwards of a $1,000 bill to replace it.
That’s if you’ve lost just one. If multiple fleet vehicles have been hit, it will be that cost for each vehicle, plus the downtime your company faces while the replacements are being installed. Also, if the thieves happen to slice through any wiring or the fuel line in the process, both your trouble and your costs will be greater.
If you have hybrid vehicles or models with easy clearance underneath, they are at greater risk these days for catalytic converter theft. Here are a few ways to thwart would-be “cat burglars” from stealing yours:
Finding out your catalytic converter has been stolen is one of those “why did I get out of bed this morning” annoyances. It robs you of time, money and patience. Taking steps to hinder catalytic converter theft is like that one thing that famous Benjamin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of rhodium.”