Police offer tips to discourage catalytic converter theft

Catalytic converter thefts are up nationwide.
Catalytic converter thefts are up nationwide.(NBC12)
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 11:00 PM CDT
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SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (WBAY) - The Sheboygan Police Department is asking vehicle owners to take steps to protect their catalytic converters from a rise in crime.

Kelly Blue Book recently cited a study that found nearly 14,433 reports of stolen catalytic converters in 2020. That number jumped to almost 26,000 in the first five months of 2021.

The thefts are a crime of opportunity. The Sheboygan P.D. says an experienced thief only needs a few minutes to separate it from your car or truck.

It’s also a lucrative crime. Police in Phoenix recently busted a theft ring and found 1,200 catalytic converters; police put the street value at $195,000, or about $162 each.

It’s a costly crime for the victims. A Green Bay organization that helps people with disabilities had to pay about $1,500 for each of the six catalytic converters stolen from its vans in a recent six-month period.

The “cat” is part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, converting the toxic gases coming out of the engine into gases that are less polluting. They use precious metals, including platinum and palladium, to achieve this.

The Sheboygan Police Department listed these vehicles being the most susceptible to catalytic converter thefts:

  • 1985-2021 Ford F-Series pickup truck
  • 1989-2020 Honda Accord
  • 2007-2017 Jeep Patriot
  • 1990-2022 Ford Econoline van
  • 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck
  • 2005-2021 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 1997-2020 Honda CR-V
  • 1987-2019 Toyota Camry
  • 2011-2017 Chrysler 200
  • 2001-2021 Toyota Prius

Whether you own these or another type of vehicle, Sheboygan police don’t want anyone to be a target. Their suggestions to discourage theft include parking in well-lit areas near public entrances or on frequently traveled streets. Also, install motion-sensing lights and cameras in your driveway or parking area. Police point out “thieves do not like to be seen.”

Etch your license plate number onto the catalytic converter so it can be identified as yours if police find it.

Spray paint your catalytic converter with a bright color. It’s an even more visible deterrent.

If you own one of those common targets, the police department asks you to consider installing a “cat shield” or “cat lock.” It’s an aluminum or stainless steel cage over the catalytic converter that’s bolted to the vehicle. They can cost a couple or few hundred dollars, so you might check with your insurance to see if they’d cover it.

Police also remind you, “If you see something, say something.” If you hear metal sawing or other unusual sounds at night, or see someone looking (or crawling) under a vehicle, report it. Watch out for your neighbors’ vehicles as well. Report any suspicious activity or persons to police and let them check it out.

If you have information about a catalytic converter theft, call your local police department. If you want to provide information anonymously, report it through a local Crime Stoppers.

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