Recent media reports vastly undercounted catalytic converter thefts in the U.S., new CARFAX data shows. Thieves removed the devices from as many as 153,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2022, far more than earlier estimates. CARFAX data scientists reviewed catalytic converter replacements from millions of service and maintenance records to arrive at this number.
Thieves are committing “opportunistic crimes,” says Sgt. Matt Casavant with the Maine State Police. “Parking lots – even ones that were well lit – were getting hit. Car dealerships are getting hit on a regular basis, too. The thieves were so brazen that it didn’t matter,” he said. “My kid drives a Subaru and I won’t let her leave her car overnight at the school or other places because it’s a high-value target.”
Criminals steal catalytic converters because of the precious metals – platinum, palladium, and rhodium – contained inside each device. Thieves can cut them from beneath vehicles in a matter of seconds, leading to a rude awakening for vehicle owners. Once the converter is removed, not only will the car make a loud noise when started, but it can cost owners thousands of dollars to replace that missing catalytic converter – especially if consumers don’t have the right type of car insurance.
To help consumers, CARFAX has compiled a nationwide list of the top 2022 targets for these precious-metal thieves:
- Ford F-Series pickup trucks
- Honda Accord
- Toyota Prius
- Honda CR-V
- Ford Explorer
- Ford Econoline vans
- Chevrolet Equinox
- Chevrolet Silverado
- Toyota Tacoma
- Chevrolet Cruze
Depending on where you’re located in the country, certain vehicles are targeted more heavily. We have a breakdown by region here.
Car owners looking to prevent catalytic converter theft should:
- Park in a well-lit area.
- Park in your garage if possible, instead of in the driveway or on the street.
- If you must park in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights.
- Install a catalytic converter anti-theft device.
- Have a muffler shop etch your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the converter and spray it with a highly visible, high-heat paint. Doing so enables law enforcement to track converters, which in turn could lead police to the thieves.