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How Can We Stop Catalytic Converter Theft?

Millions of catalytic converters are on the road. Catalytic converters are stolen because they contain valuable precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium. They are not labeled, there is no central database, and there is little to do on the manufacturing side. To make matters worse, the laws have struggled to zero in on this issue, particularly in the B2B sector, allowing for cash payments, which are impossible to track, and lax reporting.  


We sat down with Howard Nusbaum Administrator for NSVRP as he discussed the steps needed to combat catalytic converter theft. From the difficulties of labeling catalytic converters to innovative labeling methods that could revolutionize the converter marketplace and reduce theft.  


Let’s Look at The Numbers 

From our conversation with Howard, we learn that there is no centralized reporting database. Certain types of catalytic converters are covered by insurance. Unfortunately, most insurance companies lack an internal process for categorizing these claims to produce accurate data for a consensus data report. State Farm, on the other hand, was an early adopter of this tactic. State Farm reported that 23,000 claims were filed with them in 6 months. Naturally, not every State Farm customer has reported a claim, so the following is a conservative estimate. There are approximately 23,700 repair requests. This equates to $2100 per converter. The insured must also pay a $500 deductible, bringing the total to around $2,600 on average per converter. 


For a full year you can estimate around 47,000 claims just filed with State Farm which only accounts for 15.9% of the property casualty market. Approximately $1.5 billion in a single year, assuming other insurance companies reported comparable figures. 


Who Is Stealing Catalytic Converters? 

The theft of catalytic converters falls into two categories of crime. The first group consists of petty criminals who steal a smaller number of converters to sell for their drug fix or small amounts of cash, usually to a fence. A “fence” is someone who moves the product into the commercial stream. 


The second problem is organized crime. When you hear about fleets of vehicles having converters stolen, it’s usually the work of a group of these criminals.  


Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

This is a multifaceted problem that necessitates the implementation of multiple solutions. While many people are working together to combat this issue, it is strongly advised that you protect yourself and your business. If you oversee vehicle freight (for example, a car rental company), it is critical that the converters are properly labeled. Following this procedure and publicizing it with a sign, window labels, and so on will deter criminals from attempting to steal your catalytic converters. 


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