Thieves looking for valuable materials have a new target: a car’s catalytic converter, and cases are on the rise in Arizona.
The state ranks No. 9 overall in the theft of catalytic converters, according to insurance carrier State Farm, which reviewed claims data on the thefts.
A catalytic converter is an emissions control device that’s in the exhaust system underneath a vehicle. The device makes it so carbon monoxide is not coming out of a vehicle’s tailpipe.
Thieves target the converters because they contain valuable metals like platinum, rhodium and palladium. Depending on the size of the converter, thieves are selling them for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.
For car owners, it can be a costly crime because of the potential loss of work, finding and paying for alternate transportation, and paying thousands to get the car fixed.
To reduce the risk of auto parts being stolen, consider these tips:
• Park inside a garage or in a well-lit area
• If a vehicle must be parked in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights. While lights may not provide complete security, it may make some thieves think twice.
• Install a catalytic converter anti-theft device or an alarm system on your car.
To protect yourself, speak with your insurance agent to make sure the auto policy covers the theft of your entire vehicle or its parts through comprehensive coverage.
Thefts of converters has become an increasing problem in the Valley and nationally. During 2019, State Farm paid $4.3 million for 2,375 catalytic converter theft claims nationally.
During 2020 and at the height of the pandemic, State Farm experienced an increase of more than 318% in the amount paid compared to 2019 — more than $18 million paid for 9,320 claims.
During the first six months of 2021, State Farm has paid $21.4 million for 12,020 catalytic converter theft claims.
During 2020, State Farm paid just over $140,000 on more than 80 catalytic converter theft claims in Arizona.
During the first six months of this year (Jan. 1–June 30), State Farm has already paid over $443,000 for just over 300 catalytic converter theft claims in Arizona.