Here’s what police say to do to avoid catalytic converter theft

This is a recurring recording of WBNG's 6pm newscast.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:49 PM EDT
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JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) -- Catalytic converters are a critical part of a car’s exhaust system.

They help reduce the amount of pollution produced from the engine’s emissions, and it is illegal to operate a vehicle without one.

However, Johnson City Police Chief Brent Dodge said due to the profitable metals that make up the auto part, catalytic converters have become a prime target for theft.

“We’re getting reports right here in Johnson City on almost a weekly basis, so it’s definitely something that’s on an uptick and we’re seeing a lot more of,” he said.

Catalytic converters can be very costly to replace if stolen. To help avoid these hefty fees and protect vehicles from being targeted, Chief Dodge urges drivers to park their cars in heavily populated, well lit areas.

“Don’t leave your car parked in an inconspicuous place where it’d be easy for somebody to access it unnoticed,” said Dodge. “If you can keep it in a driveway, if you can have motion activated lighting, if you can have conspicuously placed security cameras so they know there’s a good chance they’re being caught on camera -- all those things will help deter catalytic converter theft.”

Drivers of large and lifted vehicles should especially take precaution, as it is easier to access catalytic converters on these types of vehicles.

“Larger vehicles that are higher off the ground are more attractive. They have larger catalytic converters so they may be worth more, and they may be easier to access if it’s not a low profile car that doesn’t have to be jacked up,” Dodge said.

People who are planning to go out of town and will be leaving their car behind can also ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on their vehicle while they’re away.

For extra measures, some auto part stores sell devices such as “cat clamps” and shields to also help protect vehicles from catalytic converter theft.