Catalytic converter on your car could be valuable target for thieves

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s happening a lot in Memphis. Thieves are stealing catalytic converters from peoples’ cars.

Police say one incident happened around 7 Sunday night when a man parked outside Primetime Movers on North Shelby Oaks Drive. They say he went to the back of the business and stole a converter from one of the company’s pickups, a Ford F-150.

Memphis Police crime stats don’t specify catalytic converter thefts, but there are plenty of cases of parts being stolen from vehicles since Jan. 1, including more than 50 cases in the northeast Memphis area alone.

You’ll know if your car’s converter is taken because the vehicle will be very loud when you drive it.

Joey Barton runs Barton’s Car Care in Midtown. He says he’s replaced a number of stolen converters in recent months.

“It was real big in Midtown when I first started noticing it but now it’s all over the place,” he said.

The part is under your vehicle and filters the exhaust. It’s an easy target for thieves with a power saw especially if you drive a truck or SUV that sits higher off the ground. 

“They get under the vehicle and cut (the) front and backside of the pipe,” Barton said, “And they’re in and out in two to three minutes I’d say.”

Barton says they can easily sell that part for $40 or $50 but these days thieves can make a lot more if they have the tools to extract metal from the device.

According to a New York Times article, stricter emission standards around the world have increased the value of metals in catalytic converters. For example, palladium can sell at roughly $2,000 an ounce.

Some converters cost thousands to replace but there are ways to protect your vehicle. A company called “Cat Security” makes strong shields that cover the converter.

“It would make it not worth stealing,” Barton said, “It would take (thieves) so long to get through it they’d get caught in the process.”

It’s important to note, if your converter is stolen, you don’t have to replace it right away but if you wait too long it can cause more damage to your vehicle.

Police are still looking for the man who stole the converter from Primetime Movers. 

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