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We recently told you about the rise in catalytic converter thefts across the country. Well, the theft problem is so bad in Texas that the National Insurance Crime Bureau is urging lawmakers to take action to curb the significant increase of thefts in the Lone Star State. In a press release, the association strongly recommends legislators support House Bill 4110. Here’s what the bill would do:
- increase requirements on sellers of catalytic converters
- impose due diligence obligations upon metal recycling entities
- increase penalties for knowingly engaging in fraudulent practices related to catalytic converter purchases.
"Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a drastic increase in auto crimes to include a rise in catalytic converter thefts, and Texas continues to be at the top of the list," said David Glawe, President and CEO of the NICB. "There is a clear connection with times of crisis and limited police resources which results in an increase in crimes of opportunity, such as auto theft. We encourage legislators in Texas to support HB 4110 to protect the public and deter this type of crime."
Why Are Catalytic Converters Popular Theft Targets?
So just what is a catalytic converter and why are they such a target for theft? Catalytic converters are devices that look like a small muffler along with the exhaust system. They are designed to convert the environmentally hazardous exhaust emitted by an engine into less harmful gasses. To do this, manufacturers use platinum, palladium, and rhodium. In recent years, the values of these precious metals have skyrocketed. As of December 2020, rhodium was valued at $14,500 per ounce, palladium at $2,336 per ounce, and platinum going for $1,061 per ounce. Typically, recyclers will pay $50 to $250 per catalytic converter.
According to NICB's Operations, Intelligence and Analytics study of reported thefts, there were 108 catalytic converter thefts per month on average in 2018, 282 average monthly thefts in 2019, and 1,203 average thefts per month in 2020. During this time-period, the top five states for catalytic converter thefts were California, Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Illinois. In 2020, there was a continual climb in thefts. January had the fewest number of thefts at 652, but it continued to climb markedly throughout the year, with December having 2,347 thefts.
The NICB provides these tips to vehicle owners:
- Install a catalytic converter anti-theft device. These are available from various manufacturers and can provide a level of security from theft.
- Park fleet vehicles in an enclosed and secured area that is well lit, locked, and alarmed.
- Park personal vehicles in a garage. If not possible and vehicles must be parked in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights. While lights may not provide complete security, it may make some thieves think twice, making them leave the area and your vehicle untouched.
- Call local law enforcement and your insurer should you become the victim of a catalytic converter theft.
Is Catalytic Converter Theft Covered by Insurance?
So if your catalytic converter is stolen your first question will likely be is it covered by your insurance, which will depend on your insurance. The NICB suggests contacting your insurance agent or company to make sure you have the right amount of coverage in case your catalytic converter is stolen. The NICB says in some cases, this theft is covered by insurance:
The optional comprehensive portion of your insurance policy, the portion that covers damage caused to your vehicle not caused by accident, covers this kind of loss. However, the owner will be responsible for paying the deductible. If your deductible is $1,000 and the cost to repair the damage costs $1,000 or maybe a few hundred dollars more, drivers may not opt to file a claim.
- Source: NICB
The NICB says it advises drivers to contact their insurer to report the theft and determine the best course of action.