LCSO warns of uptick in catalytic converter thefts nationwide

Published: August 16, 2022 9:59 AM EDT
Theft of catalytic converters are on the rise. (CREDIT: Charlotte County Sheriff's Office)

The Lee County Sheriff’s office is issuing a warning after seeing an uptick in catalytic converter thefts nationwide. Southwest Florida has also seen its share of thefts recently.

The catalytic converter is a component of a vehicle exhaust system designed to reduce pollutants released into the air. Their use was mandated in 1975 as a means to protect the environment. It is located beneath the vehicle and, in some cases, can be easily accessed.

This device contains valuable precious metals including platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Removal of the device is relatively easy. With the use of a reciprocating saw, thieves slide beneath a targeted vehicle and quickly cut the device free from the exhaust system. Trucks and cars with significant room beneath the ground and the vehicle make for easier access, so you’ll want to take particular precautions.

Upon starting your vehicle, you will immediately know that the catalytic converter has been stolen as your exhaust will make an extremely loud and unpleasant noise. Immediately contact law enforcement as well as your insurance company. Comprehensive insurance generally covers stolen vehicle parts.

While there are “anti-theft” devices that will make catalytic converter theft more tedious and time-consuming, many are somewhat costly.

As is always the case, parking in well-lit and high-visibility areas reduces the likelihood of theft. Parking inside of a garage, of course, virtually eliminates the possibility of catalytic converter removal. Security cameras, aimed at your vehicle, often deter would-be thieves and assist in their prosecution when caught.

Some vehicle owners have chosen to purchase engraving tools and etching their names and/or vehicle identification numbers onto their catalytic converters. Others have purchased specially-made steel cable, making theft a bit more difficult.

Legislators have begun composing bills aimed at discouraging the theft and sale of these automotive parts. Still, proactive measures reduce opportunity and dissuade criminals from targeting your vehicle.

Consider any or all of the aforementioned security recommendations. Report suspicious activity around neighbors’ vehicles.