There has been a sharp enhance in the number of catalytic converters remaining stolen across the region, resulting in automobiles stacking up in dealership support departments as consumers endure high priced and lengthy repairs and producers, police and legislators look for for a way to suppress the thefts.

The Countrywide Insurance policy Crime Bureau explained there were being 14,433 catalytic converter thefts documented in the U.S. in 2020, the past year figures ended up available. That’s a fourfold raise from 3,389 theft situations reported in 2019. In 2018, there were just 1,298 thefts reported. Officials hinted that 2021 figures could present a remarkable increase.

On one working day in April in Houston, AutoNation Toyota Gulf Freeway experienced 66 cars ready to have their catalytic converters replaced soon after thieves stole them. Two of people motor vehicles were being back for a 2nd time after being specific yet again.

Although any car can fall prey to thieves, some Toyota products are coveted because their catalytic converters have a larger concentration of important metals than those of other manufacturers, so they command larger rates.

Pickups such as Toyota’s Tundra and Tacoma are well-liked with converter bandits due to the fact they can have up to 4 converters and sit relatively superior off the ground. That can make it a lot easier for robbers to slip beneath and use a cordless saw to clear away the mufflerlike converters, mentioned Craig Fletcher, services director at AutoNation Toyota Gulf Freeway. Toyota Prius hybrids and SUVs and specific Honda 4-cylinder vehicles are also specially prized, as are Ford F-Series and Ram 1500 pickups.

“It’s been a continuous trouble for the very last 12 months,” Fletcher explained. “Roughly a year in the past, the rate of the products that Toyota utilizes for the converters went by means of the roof.”

Catalytic converters include just a few grams of highly-priced metals these types of as platinum, palladium and rhodium. The exceptional elements react with combustion gases to minimize the quantity of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide in a vehicle’s exhaust.

Rhodium’s existing market place rate is about $16,600 for each ounce. Platinum is investing for all-around $919 an ounce, while palladium is in the neighborhood of $2,200 for every ounce.

The skyrocketing worth of the converters would make detailed car insurance a should-have, stated Sgt. Tracy Hicks of the Houston Police Department’s Automobile Theft Crime Activity Force. Changing catalytic converters can operate as substantial as $11,000, depending on the automobile and any collateral hurt to items this kind of as wiring and fuel, transmission or coolant strains.

Hicks reported specified Toyota converters were being bringing $2,000 when the cost of the metals skyrocketed final calendar year.

Depending on the industry price tag of metals, the powertrain and variety of automobile, recyclers will shell out up to $1,500 for a single catalytic converter, mentioned Doug Seliger, marketing and advertising director of PGM of Texas, which specializes in catalytic converter recycling. A established of 4 Tundra converters, for case in point, is now bringing $500 to $1,000, he explained.

By Tara