During a 14-month period, as many as 13,000 catalytic converters were stolen in the greater Columbus area, causing an estimated $19 million in losses.
This is according to Groveport Police Chief Casey Adamswhose division is leading a multi-agency investigation into the rampant theft of emissions control devices, which could fetch thousands of dollars for the precious metals they contain.
Six people were arrested last week By Groveport Police in connection with the theft of the catalytic converter. The arrests come about six months after authorities arrested a Columbus man who they said drove a… catalytic converter steal ring which was operating in five counties of central Ohio.
But Adams, during a news conference last week announcing the recent arrests, said Ohio law enforcement officers can do little to combat this pest. He said a legislative change by Ohio lawmakers is necessary to address the problem.
“I almost felt like I was playing whack a mole,” the Groveport Police Chief said. “We will take out this group, the next group will come.”
Adams encouraged Ohioans to consider investing in products like catalytic converter cages and doorbell cameras. Although not foolproof, it often slows thieves down or makes them think twice about their plans.
Here are five things you can do to protect against catalytic converter theft:
Is your car a potential target for catalytic converter theft? Check your make and model
According to Allstate, hybrid cars, SUVs, and trucks have valuable or easily removable catalytic converters.
“The (Toyota) Prius is the No. 1 auto theft vehicle” in the Sacramento area, the muffler shop owner told NerdWallet. Being an ultra-low-emissions vehicle, the Prius has a catalytic converter that contains more rhodium, palladium and platinum that makes the pollutants harmless, according to the personal finance company.
Nerdwallet also says that trucks and SUVs often hit thieves because it’s easier to slide under the vehicle than lift it.
Engrave your license plate number or VIN on your catalytic converter
This makes the portion identifiable to law enforcement, according to Farmers Insurance.
“The idea is that a thief who sees the inscription moves on to an easier target,” the insurance company says.
Park your car in well-lit areas
Allstate also recommends moving your vehicle regularly or using an enclosed garage.
Install motion-sensitive lights and cameras in your parking area
Motion-sensitive lights can be an inexpensive way to fend off thieves. Some motion detectors have a smartphone notification system.
Install an anti-theft device
Adams and others recommend investing in anti-theft devices, such as steel shields or steel armature cages that fit catalytic converters. Although they are expensive, they are often less expensive than getting a new adapter.
according to Highway Loss Data InstituteIn 2020, insurance claims for the stolen catalytic converter ranged from $500 to $3,000.
Bonus tip: Paint the catalytic converter to deter buyers (hopefully)
Nerdwallet says some have recommended using a high-temperature fluorescent orange paint, such as the one sprayed on barbecue grills, on the catalytic converter. A reputable scrap metal dealer may refuse to buy it.
Monroe Trombley covers breaking and trending news.
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