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Catalytic Converter Theft Comes to Central New York

January 19, 2021

catalytic converter theft central new yorkWhat’s worth more per ounce than gold? Two of the three rare earth metals in your car’s catalytic converter! That’s why U. S. cities are reporting an upsurge in thefts of this valuable part of your exhaust system.

In New York State, during the last few years there have been headlines like this, “Catalytic Converter Thieves Strike Again….” These were in news reports from Rome to Syracuse and Rochester to Buffalo.

Close to home, from the Rome Sentinel on November 10, 2020, “Rome Police have issued a warning about a rise in catalytic converter thefts from motor vehicles in the city.” The main targets in Rome were auto dealerships, repair shops, and businesses with their own vehicle fleets. That’s the same everywhere, though thefts from private driveways are happening.

And just this week (January 18, 2021) it happened again at a business in Utica.

So what is a catalytic converter? Since 1975, all vehicles produced in the United States must have one as part of the exhaust system. It treats exhaust and eliminates it as a less harmful emission.

The value to thieves is the palladium, rhodium, and platinum in the converter that detoxifies the gases. The palladium and rhodium are more valuable per once than gold. And platinum is close.

Thieves can easily saw off the catalytic converter from under your vehicle. They then sell it for scrap for from $20 to $150. The problem for you is that certain catalytic converters can cost up to $1,400.

As we said, places with numerous vehicles in large lots are especially susceptible to converter thieves. And vehicles that sit higher from the ground such as pickups and SUVs. That’s because it’s easier to get underneath to saw off the converter.

How do you know your catalytic converter has been stolen? Probably when your vehicle starts with a gravelly roar. Close to the sound your engine makes when there’s a hole in the muffler.

How to Stop Catalytic Converter Theft From Your Vehicle

We consulted a report by the Merchants Insurance Group and their Special Investigation Unit along with their claim teams and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) for these tips to avoid this costly theft:

  • Ensure vehicles are secured (locked) at all times
  • Secure vehicles in locked, gated areas or indoor garages
  • Use security lighting that stays on or is motion sensitive
  • Install cameras and recording devices in areas where vehicles are stored
  • Security cameras should be HD for better quality video
  • Promptly report any thefts or attempted thefts to your local police

Insurance Coverage for Theft of Car Parts

You’re probably thinking, “Okay, I’ll be careful. But what happens if my catalytic converter is sawed off my car? Is it covered?”

The answer is yes. Your Comprehensive Coverage would respond, minus your deductible. Thing is, the catalytic converter is a critical emissions component. That means it must meet Environmental Protection Agency standards. The replacement must be refurbished and certified by an approved manufacturer. And a used converter must match the specific car’s original equipment.

So, we are here for you if this happens. But like so many insurance claims, even though we pay it’s still inconvenient for you. So we recommend you stick to the guidelines above and keep you car in a garage or at least in a well-lighted driveway.

Better safe than sorry.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here. In Westchester County call Zak Scalzo at 914.246.0315 or email at zaks@szwinsurance.com.