Catalytic Converter Theft On The Rise

Somerville Resident Awareness

The City of Somerville is experiencing an increase in the theft of catalytic converters. This theft activity is on the rise locally and on a national level. 

For example, a thief can remove a converter with a reciprocating saw in 60 seconds. For a car owner, the average replacement cost of a converter is between 1,000 - 2,000 dollars. 

catalytic converter bulletin 2

After the converter is stolen, it is brought to junk yards or scrap metal yards. There is currently no way to track the converters by identifying numbers, such as a VIN; it is near impossible for the buyers to know if the converter was stolen or a legitimate scrap from an old vehicle or wreck.

Thieves overwhelmingly target the Toyota Prius & Ford F250. The reason catalytic converters are stolen at such high rates is because they contain precious metals such as Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium. These metals help lower the emissions a vehicle puts out and over time the metals break down.  The Toyota Prius is targeted because it is a hybrid and so the metals within the converter do not break down quickly because the gas engine is not always running.  The Ford F250 is targeted because it sits high off the ground making access to the converter easy and larger due to the engine size and so it contains larger amounts of the precious metals.  

 Nevertheless, there are some precautions you can take to help protect your vehicle if you utilize public parking or on-street parking;

  1. Park in well-lit areas.
  2. Report suspicious activity by calling 911.
  3. Engrave your vehicle identification number (VIN) on your converter.  This can be done by your dealership or a mechanic if you are not able to do it yourself.
  4. There are converter shields that may be purchased that are welded over your converter so stealing it becomes much more difficult.  This would likely cause the thief to find an easier target.