Catalytic converter thefts on the rise

May 17, 2012 12:00 AM

Many drivers may not even know what a catalytic converter is until it becomes the subject of an auto repair. At that point, drivers are likely to realize that this critical component of the exhaust system doesn't come cheap. Unfortunately, thieves have noticed this as well and are beginning to steal converters out from under unsuspecting drivers, reports AOL Autos.

Catalytic converters are expensive due to the high amount of precious metals contained inside, including palladium, platinum and rhodium. Approximately 100 drivers in Detroit found that out the hard way due to a string of robberies in the city recently, according to The Detroit News. While police arrested a duo suspected of committing the bulk of the crimes, catalytic converter thefts are on the rise across the country.

Nationwide Insurance reports thieves have targeted regular drivers and small business owners who rely on vehicles for work.

"A lot of people are surprised by this crime, because they aren’t hearing much about it in the media," says Mike Ekiss, associate vice president of loss control for Nationwide. "But the threat to small businesses is real, and it could cost you if you don’t take precautions."

The part is not easy to steal, but is still doable for a competent thief. The converter hangs underneath the vehicle, but a thief with a saw can likely get the part free in a matter of minutes. AOL Autos recommends drivers see a vehicle maintenance expert about welding the part to the car and etching the vehicle's VIN number on it.

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