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Catalyst Theft: A Return to Popularity

By Tobi Haynes

As if 2020 did not have enough problems, it also seems to have caused a drastic increase in catalyst theft. You may be wondering what the pandemic and the catalysts have in common, but for law enforcement and professionals, this is not the first time they have seen increased cost crime. The most recent significant increase was during the recession in 2008. When the economy is struggling, crime is increasing and many cities across America have seen an increase in reported thefts by 300%. Denver has seen a 1600% increase!

You see, catalysts are made of three precious metals: platinum, palladium and rhodium. The prices of these materials are sky high due to an increase in emission regulations. Rhodium and palladium in particular have seen their value increase compared to gold. For thieves, they have to sell the valuable prey for junk. Once cut off, they cannot be placed on another car. So the thieves only earn about $ 300 for each part, but it costs insured and insurance companies anywhere from $ 1,000 to $ 2,500 depending on the car.

Why would a thief commit a crime for such a small dollar value? The answer is simple, just like the plot itself. Stealing a catalyst does not require expert tools or a lot of time. It can only take 5-10 minutes and a wrench or reciprocating saw. $ 300 for 10 minutes of work is a pretty good deal for people who damage money during a pandemic.

These thefts are often reported by police authorities across the country. If a person does not have extensive coverage, the theft is not covered. If you add that it is a difficult crime to solve, many do not think it is worth calling the police. So how can we protect ourselves and our catalysts? If you can not keep your vehicle inside a garage, it is almost impossible to protect it. Dealers, also a well-known target, empty the tires on their most risky vehicles. Unfortunately, this is not a logical solution for private citizens. Some police departments require scrap yards and other recyclers to check photo IDs before buying used catalysts. California takes it a step further and requires companies to take a photograph of the seller to attach the receipt and keep it for two years. Although it is a difficult crime to solve, it is important to report the theft to your local law enforcement agency so that they can record these types of crimes and their costs to society. Increased numbers can lead to increased time invested in trying to stop these thefts.

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