Protect your fleet against catalytic converter theft

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September 2, 2022

Photo: BanksPhotos/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: BanksPhotos/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

It doesn’t take long for someone to slide under a car and leave with a catalytic converter for the precious metals inside.

Catalytic converter thefts continue to rise all throughout the United States, according to an article from WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Thieves cut the converters out of the car’s exhaust systems, then sell them to scrappers. They are then resold to recycling companies.

The thieves get about $50, but the metals inside include rhodium, which is the rarest metal on Earth. Even though there is only a gram or two of rhodium inside, about an ounce of the metal can be worth about $15,000.

Rhodium is used in converters with palladium and platinum to reduce exhaust gases, but as the rarest metal in the world, it’s also valued for jewelry, high-end mirrors and electrical devices.

Recently, two men stole 13 catalytic converters, according to WPTV. Eight of them were from work trucks of a local pest control company.

They were aftermarket catalytic converters that were cut off of the vehicles, according to the detective on the case.

According to a 2021 Bloomberg report, State Farm Insurance paid $62 million in claims for around 32,000 converter thefts. That’s up more than 1,100 percent from just two years earlier.

How to protect your fleet

A recent article from Ewald Fleet Solutions shares four tips to prevent catalytic converter theft within your fleet:

  1. Park vehicles in a secure area. The best way to protect a fleet of vehicles is to park them in secure location with locked doors and gates, such as a garage or fenced-in parking lot. Keeping it well-lit with security cameras and vehicle alarms offer additional protection.
  2. Park strategically. Vehicles with high ground clearance, like trucks and SUVs, are at greater risk because they are easier to crawl underneath vs. sedans. Park any higher-ground-clearance vehicles near walls, fences or next to lower vehicles to make it more difficult for thieves to get under them.
  3. Mark your converters. A vehicle’s catalytic converter can be marked with paint or engraved with its VIN or license plate number. Thieves are less likely to steal converters that are traceable back to specific vehicles, and reputable scrap metal dealers will refuse converters that are recognizable as stolen.
  4. Upfit with catalytic converter anti-theft devices. There are several anti-theft devices available that consist of a cage or shield that fits over the converter, making it more difficult and time-consuming to remove. Thieves will often move on once they see these devices and opt to target unprotected vehicles instead.

Have you had experience with this situation? Tell us about it at pmpeditor@northcoastmedia.net.

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About the Author

Ellen Wagner

Ellen Wagner is the digital editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at ewagner@northcoastmedia.net.

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