www.Newsday.com, Robert Brodsky, May 6, 2022

Long Island and state officials are taking steps to combat a recent surge in the theft of catalytic converters from private vehicles and dealership lots.

The devices — which are attached to a vehicle's muffler and located underneath the chassis — contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium, and are used to convert toxic engine exhaust into less harmful gasses. 

State officials said the value of those metals skyrocketed in recent years, making catalytic converters a hot commodity on the black market, with a street value between $200 to $500.

On Thursday, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said they'll work with local auto dealers’ associations to distribute kits that can etch a traceable serial number onto catalytic converters that can be tracked back to the original vehicle if it's recovered by police after a theft. A serial number would also enable law enforcement to charge the individual in possession of the stolen catalytic converter.

“In addition to the cost to replace the stolen parts, these thefts often result in thousands of dollars in additional damage to the vehicle, which means a dealer has to wait to sell the vehicle or a new car buyer has to wait significantly longer to receive their vehicle,” said DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder.

The NYPD, National Insurance Crime Bureau and New York Anti Car Theft & Fraud Association have purchased up to 1,000 kits each to distribute to dealers, officials said.

Authorities said catalytic converters are most commonly stolen from Toyota, Lexus, and Honda vehicles.

The vehicles tend to be parked on streets, in parking lots or at new car dealerships, where thieves typically enter lots with hacksaws or other tools and cut the catalytic converters off vehicles. Police say it takes only 90 seconds for a thief to get under a car and swipe the device.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, parts of the state have seen 200% annual increases in catalytic converter thefts, the DMV said. Continue article