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Study shows catalytic converter thefts are up nationwide

Virginia ranks 23rd among states for thefts in 2022
The study shows catalytic converter thefts through 2021 more than quadrupled from over 14,300 in 2020 to nearly 65,400 in 2021.
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 7:55 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - For the past few years, catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise, but a new study reveals the problem may be worse than you think.

An analysis by BeenVerified shows that there has been an estimated 26,000 catalytic converter thefts so far in 2022. That’s an up more than 33 percent from this time last year.

The study also shows catalytic converter thefts through 2021 more than quadrupled from over 14,300 in 2020 to nearly 65,400 in 2021.

The study shows that there were 14,433 reported stolen in 2020, and only 3,389 thefts were reported in 2019, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). According to the study, Virginia ranks 23 among catalytic converter thefts this year.

The study says the thefts recorded are based on the number of insured thefts, so the total number of thefts is likely much higher.

There has also been a spike in catalytic converter thefts across the greater Richmond area.

According to Chesterfield County Police, there were 101 converter thefts this time last year. That number has increased to 124 in 2022. In Richmond, numbers have nearly doubled from 150 in 2021 to 354 this year.

“They’re going for vehicles that sit high off the ground so that they can get underneath with a battery-powered saw, and honestly, in 10 minutes, they’re there and gone,” Billy Allen said.

Allen is the store manager at Allen Tire off Forest Hill Avenue in Richmond. He says these thieves aren’t after the catalytic converters themselves, just the material inside.

“We’re talking expensive raw materials like Platinum, Rhodium and Palladium. When these guys are stealing these things, they take them to some type of metal recyclist, and then they’re paid for what’s inside these catalytic converters,” Allen said.

Allen says smaller vehicles have two catalytic converters, but larger vehicles can have as many as four. He says the part’s purpose is to clean your exhaust as your engine runs.

Allen says you will notice if your catalytic converter is missing because your engine will sound much louder, and the check engine light will activate. Allen says buses, church vans and large trucks are often targets because you can crawl under them without using a jack.

“We’ve had them happen at some of our locations, where a customer will drop off at night time, we go to fire it up in the morning, and it sounds as loud as it can be. And either the converters went, or they attempted to steal the converter and just couldn’t get it off,” Allen said.

Though the part won’t keep your car from running, Allen says it could cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, to repair or replace.

“You’re going to be looking at at least $1,200. Some cars are as much as $3,000 or $4,000 to replace them, so you’re talking about a ton of money,” Allen said.

Allen says the best thing you can do to protect yourself is park in well-lit areas and invest in security measures like car alarms or cameras for your vehicle. Allen says you can also purchase shields that can be installed to protect your cars. While the shields are not full proof, he says it can buy you some time if someone tries to steal them.

For a full report of the study, click HERE.

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