AAA warns catalytic converter thefts are spiking, offers tips

COPPELL, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — New data from AAA shows stolen catalytic converter insurance claims have jumped 5,300% in Texas since 2019.

With July being a leading month for vehicle thefts, AAA is reminding Texans to take steps to protect their vehicles.

According to a statement released by AAA, the earnings for catalytic converters is high and the sales “may not always be tracked by law enforcement.”

“Two of the three rare earth metals used in catalytic converters, rhodium and palladium, are worth more per ounce than gold.”

SUVs and fleet vehicles — including school buses — have been the main targets, but Toyota Priuses have also been targeted because they have two catalytic converters, the statement said.

Thieves can sell detached catalytic converters for hundreds of dollars. However, the cost to replace the part could cost victims thousands and could leave them with a vehicle they’re unable to drive.

According to the statement, Harris County leads the state with the highest number of catalytic converter thefts this year, followed by Fort Bend, Dallas, Bexar and Tarrant Counties.

AAA offered the following tips to help prevent the thefts:

  • When possible, park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances.
  • If you have a garage at your house, park your car inside and keep the garage door shut.
  • If you own a high clearance vehicle like a truck or SUV, store it in a secure location.
  • Have the catalytic converter welded to your car’s frame, which may make it harder to steal.
  • Look into buying a converter-protection device that has been developed for the Prius and other vehicles targeted by thieves. 
  • Consider engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter – this may help alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen and make it easier to find the owner.
  • Security devices, such as locks, are available that attach to the converter, making it harder to steal.
  • Calibrate your car’s alarm to go off when it detects vibration.
  • Carry a good insurance policy. Most insurance companies cover replacement costs if the vehicle owner has the optional comprehensive coverage, which covers damage to a vehicle not caused by a crash.

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