VIRGINIA BEACH — AAA Tidewater Virginia is warning motorists that since the start of the pandemic, catalytic converter theft has been on the rise, according to data from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
“We have seen more and more motorists become victims of this opportunistic crime,” said Chad Pence, AAA Tidewater vice president of automotive services. “With the dramatic increase across the nation as well as the commonwealth, there is no better time to take some proactive measures to protect your vehicle.”
Catalytic converters are devices that attach to a car’s exhaust system to convert toxic exhaust into a less harmful gas. Precious metals such as platinum, palladium or rhodium are necessary to make them work, and those precious metals make them attractive to thieves.
Replacing a catalytic converter can cost from $1,000-$3,000 in parts and labor.
According to the NICB, in the U.S., there were 108 catalytic converter thefts per month on average in 2018, 282 average monthly thefts in 2019, and 1,203 average thefts per month in 2020.
AAA advises the following steps to prevent catalytic converter theft:
- Park in a garage or other secure area when available.
- If you must park on the road or in a driveway, make sure you are able to park by a streetlight or camera.
- Always make sure that your car is locked and has functioning alarms.
- Get your VIN etched on your catalytic converter. This will not stop thieves from taking it but is a deterrent.
Motorists who find they have fallen victim to catalytic converter theft should contact local law enforcement, as well as their insurer as catalytic converter theft may be covered in their policy.