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Auto Insurance coverage Weblog | Catalytic Converter Thefts Up, Spurring Motion from Lawmakers


By Max Dorfman, Analysis Author, Auto Insurance coverage

Rising thefts of catalytic converters – pushed, a minimum of partly, by elevated black-market costs for the motorcar pollution-control element – have prompted renewed state and federal concentrate on stopping these crimes.

Converter thefts rose in 2021, with 52,206 reported, up from 1,298 in 2018, in response to claims knowledge from the Nationwide Insurance coverage Crime Bureau (NICB). Catalytic converters are a part of a automobile’s exhaust system, decreasing poisonous fuel and pollution and turning them into protected emissions. Although the half itself is efficacious—generally rising above $1,000 every on the black-market—the valuable metals inside will be extra precious than gold. They embody palladium, platinum, and rhodium, the latter of which is valued at $20,000 per ounce.

The NICB has discovered a robust hyperlink between “instances of disaster, restricted assets, and disruption of the provision chain that drives these thefts.”

In late 2022, the U.S. Division of Justice, alongside federal, state, and native legislation enforcement companions, broke up a community of thieves, sellers, and processors concerned in promoting stolen catalytic converters to a steel refinery for tens of tens of millions of {dollars}. The ring spanned 9 states, from California to Virginia. The USA is now pursuing forfeiture of $545 million linked to the case.

“This nationwide community of criminals damage victims throughout the nation,” mentioned FBI Director Christopher Wray. “They made a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} within the course of—on the backs of hundreds of harmless automobile homeowners.”

Lawmakers take discover

In 2021, 26 states throughout the U.S. proposed payments to restrict the theft of catalytic converters. Stringent legal guidelines in Arkansas, South Carolina, and Texas require scrap steel consumers to take care of information of catalytic converter purchases. In Minnesota, a Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention Program was created for investigation and prosecution of this crime.

Extra not too long ago, U.S. Rep. Jim Baird of Indiana launched a federal “Stopping Auto Recycling Theft Act,” which might assist legislation enforcement tackle these thefts by marking every converter with a traceable identification quantity and establishing federal penalties.

“Whoever steals or knowingly and unlawfully takes, carries away, or conceals a catalytic converter from one other individual’s motorcar, or knowingly purchases such a catalytic converter, with the intent to distribute, promote, or get rid of such catalytic converter or any valuable steel eliminated therefrom in interstate or overseas commerce shall be fined beneath this title or imprisoned no more than 5 years, or each,” the laws says.

Companion laws has been launched within the Senate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Preventive measures will be taken

The NICB recommends a number of steps to guard your self from catalytic converter thefts:

  • Set up a catalytic converter anti-theft machine.
  • Park fleet vans in an enclosed space that’s secured, properly lighted, locked and alarmed. 
  • Park private automobiles, if potential, in a storage. If not potential and the automobile have to be parked in a driveway, think about putting in movement sensor safety lights. Whether or not within the storage or exterior within the driveway, set the alarm in your automobile if outfitted.
  • Attend an area NICB catalytic converter etching occasion. If none are at present scheduled in your space, contact a muffler store that may etch your automobile’s VIN on the converter, and spray it with a extremely seen high-heat paint.

The NICB notes that these thefts will be lined by insurance coverage beneath the non-compulsory complete portion of your insurance coverage coverage, which gives protection for harm to your automobile not attributable to a collision.

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