DES PLAINES, Ill., April 15, 2021 — The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the insurance industry’s association dedicated to predicting, preventing, and prosecuting insurance crime, is urging legislators to take steps to address the significant increase in catalytic converter thefts across the Lone Star State. NICB strongly recommends legislators support House Bill 4110, which would increase requirements on sellers of catalytic converters, impose due diligence obligations upon metal recycling entities, and 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.”
A catalytic converter is a device that looks like a small muffler along with the exhaust system. It is 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 recommends 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.
NICB always encourages you to contact your insurance agent or company to make sure you have the right amount of coverage in case your catalytic converter is stolen. 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. The NICB advises drivers to contact their insurer to report the theft and determine the best course of action.