It's something many drivers never think about until it's stolen: the catalytic converter on their cars. But it contains precious metals that are getting more and more expensive.
Thieves are getting big paydays by stealing them. A new report shows thieves might target specific vehicles and lists which are targeted the most.
Larry Groves is one of the thousands of recent victims.
This soup kitchen director looked wistfully at photos of his white van that meant so much to his organization, BLOC Kitchen,because he used it daily to deliver meals to needy families.
"We came out to start up the vehicle, and it sounded like a truck," he said.
Thieves had cut the catalytic converter off overnight, leaving the van extremely loud, underpowered, and essentially useless.
"Sure enough, the catalytic converter was gone," he said.
Worse, his nonprofit did not have $2,000 to fix it.
"The ministry doesn't have that kind of money," he said, telling us that volunteers are now forced to use their personal cars for deliveries.
Gone in 60 seconds
A video provided by CARFAX shows how quickly a catalytic converter can be removed. It took a small saw less than 60 seconds to slice it off.
Patrick Olsen, the executive editor with CARFAX, says thieves are always getting brazen.
"We've seen them do it in broad daylight," he said.
The company recently dug through service records and discovered that nearly 153,000 catalytic converters were stolen nationwide last year. Olsen says the metals inside them have soared in price over the past two years.
"Palladium and platinum trade for around $1,000 an ounce today," he said. "Rhodium, though, goes for about $10,000 an ounce."
According to CARFAX, the most targeted vehicles include the following:
- Ford F Series truck
- Honda Accord
- Toyota Prius
- Honda CR-V
- Ford Explorer
- Ford Econoline
- Chevy Equinox
- Chevy Silverado
- Toyota Tacoma
The report claims thieves are increasingly targeting hybrids -- because they contain even more of those precious metals.
So what can you do? CARFAX says:
- If you don't have a garage, park in a well-lit area.
- Invest in a catalytic converter anti-theft device, such as a metal plate shops can add underneath your car.
- Ask a shop to etch your car's VIN on the converter, which makes it much tougher for the thief to sell it.
Larry Groves and his volunteers are hoping to raise enough money to purchase a new van for deliveries.
"It's a constant struggle each and every day," he said.
CARFAX suggests you talk to your insurance company about comprehensive coverage, which should cover this type of damage.
And that way you don't waste your money.
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