Most people will never think about catalytic converters in their life. If you own a hybrid vehicle, like a Prius, you might want to start thinking about yours.
A Surge in Catalytic Convert Theft
“We have seen a dramatic increase in catalytic converter thefts in the area,” warned an Auburn Police Department Facebook post. “There are no geographic-specific locations, as you can see by the widespread of incidents for 2020 on the map.” However the increase in catalytic converter thefts is not limited to King County – it’s nationwide.
A catalytic converter is an emissions component. Located in your exhaust, it chemically alters hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide turns it into carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Thieves are attracted to the car part due to the precious metals they contain.
Platinum, Palladium, and Rhodium are all contained inside catalytic converters. All three of these precious metals have seen an increased demand in recent years, causing a jump in price. These metals are used in electronics, jewelry, and dental equipment in addition to the car part.
Why a Prius?
With two power sources hybrids process fewer pollutants through their catalytic converters. This means the precious metals are less likely to corrode, increasing the value of the part. Thieves are attracted to that increased value.
The surge in thefts, especially those targeting Prius, has caused a nationwide backorder on catalytic converters. Aftermarket security devices are available to protect the valuable part. To replace the part on a Prius can cost upwards of $1,800.
Thieves sell the stolen part to scrap yards, which smelt down the precious metals inside. Auburn’s Rain City Recycling explained that the metal vendor they utilize requires identification. This is in line with the dispositions of RCW Chapter 19.290.
Auburn Police are asking car owners to stay vigilant and “if you can, please park your vehicle inside a garage. Please call 911 if you see anyone suspicious around or underneath a vehicle.”
I had to learn about car parts for this. It wasn’t as cool as spontaneous combustion.