Catalytic Converter thefts on rise in Southern Tier

Published: May. 17, 2023 at 10:58 PM EDT
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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- Michelle Payne started her car last Thursday morning and noticed it sounded really loud, she went to the auto body shop right next to her home and when they put it on the lift, they noticed the issue right away.

“We noticed that it was my catalytic converter that was cut off, so while it sat here in my driveway somebody came and stole it, and he said it’s been happening,” said Raymond Juriga, the owner of Ray’s Auto.

Michelle is just one of many throughout the entire country who has fallen victim to the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles.

In 2022, police arrested a man who orchestrated a $22 million catalytic converter trafficking operation throughout six states, stealing over 44,000 converters for the duration of the trafficking operation.

Catalytic converters are your car’s way of filtering out harmful engine exhaust pollutants. they also contain rhodium, palladium, and platinum, which are huge money makers. palladium costs nearly $3,000 per ounce, and rhodium can go for nearly $20,000 per ounce.

“What they do is take them to Pennsylvania, and Canada, and they recycle the insides the guts,” says Juriga.

While big bucks for the thieves who steal them may materialize, it also means big costs for those who have them taken.

Universal replacements can cost about $200 to $300 according to Autozone, but newer vehicles may require direct-fit converters because the original catalytic converters are incorporated into the exhaust manifold. these direct-fit converters can cost as much as $2,500.

The National Insurance crime bureau says some tips to help you avoid your converter being stolen are getting your car’s VIN number etched onto your car’s converter, installing an anti-theft device, and parking your personal vehicle in a garage or in a driveway with motion sensor security lights.