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FBI Dismantles Catalytic Converter Theft Ring

As catalytic converter theft has become a hot topic, affecting all our communities across the United States, a new bust has been made that may deter future thieves. The US Justice Department has dismantled a nationwide crime network that was responsible for the theft of thousands of catalytic converters across the country. Over $500 million in material is estimated to have been stolen, making this one of the largest busts in catalytic converter theft history.  

As part of the operation, which included local, state, and federal law enforcement, 21 people from five states were arrested and charged. Federal courts in California and Oklahoma have filed multiple charges for conspiracy to transport stolen catalytic converters and conspiracy to perpetrate money laundering. The FBI says the stolen converters were shipped to a New Jersey company, which extracted the metals and sold them to a refinery, cashing in for more than $545 million. 


Criminals make good money doing this. According to a recent report, four people driving a Lamborghini in Torrance, California, jumped out to steal a catalytic converter. It is difficult to believe that a car worth more than $200,000 is being used to steal catalytic converters. Of course, there may be other ways that these thieves obtained this kind of car, but catalytic converter theft is still a lucrative industry. This type of theft has been occurring all over the nation for many years now but has peaked during the pandemic. 

Plans To Deter Catalytic Converter Theft 

There are plans to mark catalytic converters, which would help deter theft because these converters are registered with a specific vehicle. We hope that serves as a deterrent to a criminal who may already be under the vehicle, ready to cut it off, but we don’t know if it is yet. 

It’s great that there are so many regulatory efforts underway to combat theft in this industry. However, there is no uniformity in the rules for buying and selling catalytic converters that we can see. We believe that, at the very least, there should be reporting, licensing, and oversight. It is unfortunate that businesses must adapt their operations in response to unfortunate events like these, but crimes like these have an impact on respectable businesses like ours. To ensure that catalytic converter businesses operate to their full potential and reduce theft in their communities, uniform regulations must be implemented at the federal level. 

How This Effects Legitimate Recyclers 

When viewed through the lens of the recycling industry, this does not bode well. There are multiple companies that recycle catalytic converters to extract precious metals from the converters and reuse them in the automotive circular economy. Since these precious metals are so valuable, lawbreakers steal them. Platinum, palladium, and rhodium are the precious metals found inside your catalytic converter. In reference, the most valuable precious metal, rhodium, is currently priced at around $13,000 per ounce. 

The Noble6® Way 

Noble6® is a distinctive, reputable precious metal recycler that does not purchase catalytic converters from private individuals or the public. This means that we only work with automotive-related businesses that are licensed and registered. Additionally, since we don’t pay for the catalytic converters we buy from these companies in cash, every transaction can be tracked back to its original site. As a result, if a situation arose where verification was required, there would be a paper trail, which would be difficult to establish if cash was used. Finally, to stop criminals from interfering with legal business, we implemented anti-money laundering (AML) procedures. These actions are being taken by all reputable automotive precious metal recycling companies. 



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