AUSTIN, Texas — A new report ranked Texas second for the most catalytic converter thefts in the U.S.
The report put out by State Farm Insurance shows that catalytic converter thefts have increased by more than 400% since 2019. From 2019 until August 2022, State Farm has paid more than $70.6 million to insurance customers to recover from a catalytic converter theft.
In that same time period, Texas residents have taken up $1.2 million of that insurance payout. Texas had a total of 4,830 cases in claims court – second to California, which had 7,430 claims at the same time.
"We get calls on a weekly basis, sometimes a daily basis," said Andrew West with Tech One Automotive in Austin.
Andrew West said his shop gets a lot of calls about catalytic converter thefts.
"It's just a reciprocating saw, usually a battery-powered one to make it easy to crawl under the vehicle and sometimes they are in and out in 30 seconds or less," said West.
But what does a catalytic converter do?
The part is meant to help cut down on greenhouse gasses and improve emissions in vehicles.
How would you know if yours has been stolen?
"They can definitely tell. It definitely sounds like a piece of your exhaust is missing and it's going to sound like your muffler's gone," said West.
The main components thieves want from the catalytic converters are the precious metals inside of them, such as platinum. When the converters are stolen, it is these metals that are taken and then resold, not the converter itself.
However, Ben Palmer with State Farm said there aren't many ways to avoid this type of theft, but there are some methods.
"Try to park in a well-lit area or park in a well-traffic area," said Palmer.
He also mentioned items such as catalytic converter cages, which are a good option as well. They cover the part in a metal casing and make it harder for thieves to steal.
Nationwide, State Farm has paid out around $95 million in insurance claims related to these thefts from 2021 to 2022.
As of August 2022, Texas residents have experienced a 30% increase in thefts this year, even before the holiday months. In 2021, the holiday months – September, October, November and December – had the highest number of claims for thefts.
West said these metals go for hundreds to thousands of dollars but shops like his can help prevent thefts from happening.
"There's VIN number etching, which most reputable scrap yards will not take a converter if it has a VIN number etched in it," said West.
West also mentioned that the Toyota Prius is one of the most common cars for this to happen due to the high count of metals inside the catalytic converter.
Both said deterring thieves can decrease your chance of becoming the next victim.
Other metals from catalytic converters include palladium and rhodium, both of which can be resold for hundreds to thousands of dollars per ounce. If your vehicle's catalytic converter is stolen, it can cost you upwards of $3,000.
State Farm recommends that you check with your insurance agent to confirm your automobile policy to ensure that theft of any kind is covered for your entire vehicle. Additionally, anti-theft protection like cable-locking devices or a steel shield can be installed on the exhaust system to stop thieves from stealing the converter.
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