Catalytic Converter Theft: A Quick and Destructive Crime

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports 25,394 catalytic converters were stolen nationwide between 2008-2015, with theft rising 23% during that period. And that’s just for insured cars, meaning the numbers could be much higher.

It’s a costly crime that can be hard to spot. We’re talking about catalytic converter theft.

The problem here is that catalytic converter theft can happen virtually anywhere. From auto dealers, to used car lots, parking lots and any business with vehicles parked on site at all hours of the day. This type of theft is taking place in nearly every corner of the country, including these recent cases:

  • Eagan, Minn. – Police recently warned residents following 76 catalytic converter thefts this year – 12 in September alone.
  • Charlotte, N.C. – It’s been reported that police have seen a 372% increase in catalytic converter thefts.
  • Portland, Ore. – Police reported 129 catalytic converter thefts in a six-month period last year.

Valuable Haul

Why are thieves targeting this part from the underbelly of vehicles? The answer is simple – money. Catalytic converters may seem rather unappealing; however, they contain precious metals that can fetch a pretty penny on the scrap market. In fact, one report found that palladium, which can be found in some catalytic converters, can actually be worth more than gold.

And because thieves aren’t typically interested in these parts’ primary function (filtering out pollutants), they aren’t worried about damaging it or the rest of the car in the process. A skilled thief can cut out the converter in under two minutes.

According to Edmunds, replacing it will cost vehicle owners $1,000 or more. And, someone who is just looking to turn a quick profit can rip the part right out, which could result in a much bigger bill than just replacing the converter itself.

Early Detection and Deterrence with Remote Video Surveillance

Depending on the business, thieves can remain hidden while they carry out catalytic converter thefts for quite some time. Take an auto dealer, for instance. If a thief is able to make it onto the lot unnoticed, they can slip under a car and remain hidden while they carry out their dirty work.

Once they are gone, the business owner likely won’t know a crime has taken place unless they inspect that specific vehicle or try to drive it. It could be hours or days before anyone knows something is wrong. And while businesses may already have record-and-store security cameras in place, those cameras do nothing to actively deter theft.

Auto Dealership Security

Sure, recording a crime on camera may help police in an investigation. But by the time that video is sifted through and watched, the criminals will be long gone – and damage will already be done, resulting in costly repairs and potential insurance headaches.

Detecting bad actors on the premises and deterring them is the key to avoiding catalytic converter theft. And, time is of the essence. Thanks to remote video monitoring that solution exists. Pro-Vigil’s remote video monitoring services can detect someone approaching vehicles who shouldn’t be there.

Our system combines surveillance cameras with artificial intelligence to detect suspicious activity (e.g., a person jumping a car lot fence after hours) and deploy deterrence features ranging from recorded announcements over loudspeakers, to sirens and strobe lights, sending thieves running and keeping catalytic converters intact.

If you would like to learn more about how Pro-Vigil’s remote video monitoring can help deter theft at your business, please contact us today.

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