Why are catalytic converters a target for thieves? News 12 finds out

Federal authorities have busted a multistate catalytic converter theft ring that has ties to New Jersey.

News 12 Staff

Nov 3, 2022, 10:42 PM

Updated 624 days ago

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Federal authorities have busted a multistate catalytic converter theft ring that has ties to New Jersey.
The announcement has left some wondering what a catalytic converter does and why they are being stolen so often.
Lou's Edison Motors has had to replace many catalytic converters over the last few months. And a few weeks ago, one of the cars that mechanics were repairing had its catalytic converter ripped right out from under it. The next day owner Lou Taddevo installed multiple cameras on his property to prevent it from happening again.
“We had a couple of Honda Accords last year. It was about a $2,400 bill to replace them,” Taddevo says.
This is how much Lou’s Edison Motors charges to replace stolen catalytic converters.
Catalytic converters have been a part of every car since the mid-1970s. They were federally mandated to clean vehicle emissions.
“As the hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide go through the catalytic converter, they have a chemical reaction and cause the hydrocarbon and carbon dioxide to re-burn and become a clean exhaust,” Taddevo says.
Catalytic converters also contain precious metals – which make them a target for thieves.
"Platinum, rhodium and palladium. It's coated on a honeycomb material that's ceramic,” says Taddevo.
Those materials are worth thousands of dollars per ounce, depending on the market.
“It’s not like it’s a large amount [in each converter] …but if you steal enough of them,” says Taddevo.
While some vehicles make it difficult to steal the catalytic converters, many are fairly easy to take off.
“Many catalytic converters…it makes it easy to slide under the car and take a Sawzall and cut them off,” says Taddevo.
Taddevo says there are companies making protective cages or cables for the coverts. But he says that someone who can saw off the converter can also likely cut through a cage.


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