ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise across the country after an initial spike during the pandemic, according to AAA.
Thieves are drawn to the vehicle part because two of the three rare Earth metals – rhodium and palladium – used to produce them are worth more per ounce than gold.
Many are sold for hundreds of dollars to scrapyards or internet buyers, AAA said.
The victims of catalytic converter thefts can pay between $1,000 to $3,000 to have them replaced, according to AAA.
While any car can be targeted, thieves are attracted to SUVs and fleet vehicles, as well as Toyota Priuses, AAA said.
AAA offers the following tips to help prevent catalytic converter theft:
- When possible, park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances.
- If you have a garage at your house, park your car inside and keep the garage door shut.
- If you own a high clearance vehicle like a truck or SUV, store it in a secure location.
- Have the catalytic converter welded to your car’s frame, which may make it harder to steal.
- Look into buying a converter-protection device which has been developed for the Prius and other vehicles targeted by thieves
- Consider engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number on the catalytic converter – this may help alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen and make it easier to find the owner.
- Security devices, such as locks, are available that attach to the converter, making it harder to steal.
- Calibrate your car’s alarm to go off when it detects vibration.
- Most importantly, carry a good insurance policy. Most insurance companies cover catalytic converter replacement costs if the vehicle owner has the optional comprehensive coverage, which covers damage to a vehicle not caused by a crash.
Catalytic converter thefts started increasing in 2020 as the pandemic led to higher unemployment, and many vehicles were being driven less.