Written by Marcy Bauers, ARM, CSRM, CEAS III, Manager, Risk Management Department

If it hasn’t already happened, catalytic converter theft is likely headed to a neighborhood near you. According to Kelley Blue Book, in the first five months of 2021, there were 25,969 reports of catalytic converters stolen. This number is trending to a possible 300+% increase from the 14,333 reported in 2020 and makes it hard to imagine the mere 3,389 reported in 2019.

While Fred C. Church did see an occasional theft last year, our claims data continue to include more and more of these events involving numerous types of vehicles. Whether you have a large box truck, a small school bus, or an average passenger automobile, your vehicle may be a target.

One of the drivers for these thefts is that the converters are fairly easy to remove—they are located under the rear of the vehicle, just ahead of the tailpipe. They are quickly detached with a hand-held power saw and carried away. Thieves will then recycle them for their metal content, as the larger ones can be worth up to $500.

Of course, the best way to prevent this theft is to remove access to vehicles by parking them inside a garage or building. We understand that isn’t an option for many of our clients and have a few additional suggestions:

  • Park your vehicle in a well-lit area or install motion-detection lighting.
  • Install motion sensors, which will sound when the vehicle is vibrated.
  • Mark your converters with paint or the VIN number to discourage resale.
  • Weld the converter to your car’s frame or install a cage around the converter.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. is working with the industry to help curb these thefts and has created a reporting option for law enforcement and others to help track and recover these converters. You can see the statistics in your area and register at www.scraptheftalert.com.

The Risk Management Department at Fred C. Church is committed to helping businesses of all types stay informed of significant regulatory changes and assisting you in your efforts to remain compliant. If you would like more information or assistance with this or any other compliance issue, feel free to contact one of the Fred C. Church Risk Management Consultants at risk@fredcchurch.com.