Catalytic converter thieves have been on a tear since 2020, as police departments nationwide and car insurance companies reported a record surge of criminals stealing the part, which is laden with precious metals that help clean car exhaust.
An analysis by BeenVerified found thefts through 2021 more than quadrupled all catalytic converter thefts in 2020—and the trend shows no signs of slowing down this year.
Catalytic converter thefts from January through April are up more than 33% compared to the same time period in 2021, BeenVerified estimates. Several new hotspots for theft have emerged this year, including Hawaii, Indiana and Georgia.
Looking at the number of reported thefts in 2019 and 2020, BeenVerified compared state and national statistics of associated Google searches on “catalytic converter theft” during the same time frame and found that search traffic on the term reliably follows a pattern: For every 10 searches, there is on average one reported catalytic converter theft.
- Catalytic converter thefts continue to grow in 2022. In the first four months, we estimate that nearly 26,000 thefts nationwide, an increase of 33.5% year-on-year.
- Thefts more than quadrupled in 2021. We estimate there were 65,398 thefts nationwide—a 353% increase from all reported thefts of catalytic converters in 2020, a previous record year for these thefts.
There were 14,433 reported stolen in 2020 and only 3,389 thefts were reported in 2019, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
- Indiana, Georgia and Rhode Island are new catalytic converter theft hotspots in 2022. The largest year-over-year increases for the first four months of this year are Indiana (417.1%), Connecticut (258%), Georgia (251.6%), Rhode Island (232.3%) and New York (230.3%).
- Top states per 100,000 vehicles are Hawaii, Indiana and Washington so far this year. Hawaii has averaged 68 catalytic converter thefts per 100,000 registered vehicles, followed by Indiana (55), Washington (53), Connecticut (50) and Texas (47).
2021 Catalytic Converter theft statistics
- California, Texas and Washington were top states for theft. The top states for theft last year are California (18,026 thefts), Texas (7,895), Washington (4,252), Minnesota (2,363) and Colorado (2,171).
- Colorado, Arizona and Connecticut see the biggest 2021 spike. The largest year-over-year increase were in Colorado (1,498%), Arizona (1,340%), Connecticut (1,329%), Texas (818%) and New Jersey (774%).
- Top states per 100,000 vehicles are Washington, Minnesota and Colorado. Washington state averaged 148 catalytic converter thefts per 100,000 registered vehicles in 2021, followed by Oregon (145) Minnesota (130), Colorado (126), and California (123).
- Toyota, Honda and Lexus vehicles are top targets. The most popular cars by make and model targeted by catalytic converter thieves in 2020 were the Toyota Prius, Honda Element, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Tacoma and Honda Accord.
Catalytic converter thefts by state
Catalytic converters contain platinum, palladium or rhodium, precious metals that have seen their value skyrocket over the past two years. The theft of a catalytic converter can be done in minutes by culprits, who then resell to recyclers for between $50 and $250 per part. The cost to repair is between $1,000 and $3,000, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Tips to prevent catalytic converter theft
Suggestions from experts to try and deter catalytic converter theft include:
- Consider installing a catalytic converter anti-theft device in your vehicle.
- When possible, park your car in a locked garage.
- If not possible, make sure it’s parked in a well-lit area or install motion-activated lights and security cameras.
- In public parking garages and lots, park near the front of the building entrance or other areas where pedestrian traffic is high.
- Engrave your vehicle VIN and phone number into your catalytic converter.
BeenVerified analyzed 2019 and 2020 insured catalytic converter theft data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau and January 2019 through April 2022 search data from Google to make its findings. We found searches and thefts have a strong positive correlation (r(22)=.98, p < .01). Theft numbers for insured thefts are likely much lower than the total number of thefts.
For more information, contact Kerry Sherin, email@example.com.
BeenVerified’s mission is to help people discover, understand and use public data in their everyday lives. BeenVerified and our associated websites curate dozens of public data sources and proprietary data sets to give people easy and affordable access to billions of public records, including a VIN number lookup tool to research vehicle history.