Catalytic converter theft is on the rise in Ramsey County, the metro area and nationwide.
A catalytic converter is an EPA exhaust emission control device that reduces toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine by converting them to less-toxic pollutants. Catalytic converters are typically found beneath the vehicle as part of the exhaust system.
Thieves target catalytic converters because they contain precious metals like platinum, palladium or rhodium that are valuable to metal dealers. They can steal one off a vehicle in as little as two minutes, according to Cdr. Phil Baebenroth from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.
Thieves can sell them to scrap yards for $50 to $200, while it can cost the victim $800 to $5,000 to replace, depending on their insurance coverage.
Targeted vehicles include the Toyota Prius, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, all types of Hondas, and trucks or sports utility vehicles with higher ground clearance.
Most catalytic converters do not have serial numbers, making it difficult for law enforcement to prove a catalytic converter is stolen. This lack of identification makes it difficult to identify victims and successfully apprehend and prosecute criminals, according to Baebenroth.
The following are tips from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office to help deter and prevent catalytic converter theft:
• Park in your garage or in an enclosed, secured parking area. If you park your vehicle in the driveway, use motion detector lights or continuous lights that illuminate your driveway.
• Always park in well-lighted areas.
• Purchase a vehicle security system and make sure it is set to trigger with just the slightest motion.
• Visit a local muffler shop and have the converter secured to the vehicle’s frame with a couple of pieces of hardened steel welded to the frame.
• Engrave your license plate number or vehicle identification number (VIN) on the converter to make it traceable.
• Paint your converter using a high-temperature fluorescent orange or bright paint and then inscribe your VIN on the painted surface.
• Educate your friends and neighbors about catalytic converter theft.
• Check out the different types of catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts stores or online.
• When you see suspicious activity, call law enforcement right away. If you see a suspicious person under a vehicle, chances are they are attempting to steal the catalytic converter.
If you become a victim of catalytic converter theft, report it to your local law enforcement and call 911.