Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The economics of catalytic converter theft, part 2 of why catalytic converters are being stolen

I wrapped up part 1 yesterday with a look ahead to today's part 2.
That's the science side of the story, along with a dose of the legal and regulatory history behind mandating catalytic converters to reduce air pollution. Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow, which will concentrate on the economics and crime prevention aspects of the issue.
CNBC's Why Thefts Of Cars And Car Parts Are Spiking places the rising numbers of catalytic converter theft in the context of other crimes that became more common during the pandemic.

In 2020, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, cars and car parts were stolen in alarming numbers. Insurance analysts and law enforcement point fingers at factors like fallout from Covid and the skyrocketing price of precious metals found in catalytic converters. How can consumers protect themselves?
In an example of everything is connected to everything else and there is no free lunch, keeping people and their vehicles at home during the day changed where criminals struck with burglaries at work places and car thefts at home instead of the reverse pre-pandemic. Add in the economic recovery, with more demand for new cars along with more countries requiring catalytic converters on vehicles, and the prices of the platinum-group metals soared, making catalytic converters even more of a target for thieves.*

My long-time readers know that I drive a Prius, so the CNBC video alarmed me personally, as it mentioned that Priuses have become targets for catalytic converter theft. I had assumed that the car's low clearance would discourage strippers from getting under the car to cut out the vehicle's two catalytic converters. I was wrong; all it takes is a jack to access the underside. Catalytic Converters Are Being Stolen by the Thousands from Inside Edition opens with security camera footage of thieves doing exactly that.

A crime wave is sweeping the country as crooks jack up cars and slide underneath them with power saws to snatch catalytic converters. Theft of catalytic converters, which reduce the amount of pollution that comes out of your car, has gone through the roof because the value of some materials that go into making converters has skyrocketed. So what can be done to avoid becoming a victim of this crime? Inside Edition spent two days with Sgt. Tracy Hicks of Houston’s auto-crimes task force to find out.
Now I'm thinking of having the dealership install a plate over Pearl's catalytic converters to keep them from being stolen, that's how worried I am. I can no longer rely on driving the worst car around to deter thieves.

*Catalytic converters are not the only component of cars to experience a shortage as America recovers from COVID-19; computer chips are, too. I might write about them, as silicon being an important element in auto manufacturing is another story I tell my students. Stay tuned.

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