The precious metals in catalytic converters have made them a target for thieves, especially those found in Toyotas that are made from larger amounts of precious metals than other manufacturers. The thieves seem to favor Toyota Tundras and Tacomas over other models since these vehicles can be equipped with four converters. These trucks sit high off the ground, and that makes it much easier to get the converters.
Some Toyota dealership service departments are seeing a significant increase in vehicles showing up for replacement converters. This is leading to long waits for parts and causing regular service customers to find it difficult to get work done. These repairs can be costly, as well as time-consuming. According to one Toyota dealership, they had 66 vehicles stacked up waiting on repairs. Some of the vehicles had already had their converters replaced once, but were stolen again.
According to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were four times more catalytic converters stolen in 2020 than in 2019. 14,433 converters were stolen in 2020 against 3,389 in 2019 and 1,298 in 2018. The bureau anticipates there will be an even higher increase when the 2021 numbers are released.
On the market, one catalytic converter can translate into $2,000 for the thief. In the case of a Tundra, they could be realizing a profit of $8,000.
The precious metals in the converters include rhodium, platinum and palladium. At least two of these metals are worth more than gold.
No one seems to be safe from converter theft. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee had their converters stolen from seven of their club vans in December of 2021. The out-of-pocket costs to the club were over $17,000. It only takes thieves less than five minutes to steal a converter.
Even if the thief is interrupted, the vehicle still needs to go to the dealership for repair. It is possible that the thieves only started sawing on the converter, which leads to emission system damage that requires professional repairs.
Effects on Automobile Insurance
All of these thefts affect car owners in ways other than a slowdown in the service department lane of the dealership. It affects the price of replacement parts and the cost of comprehensive insurance policies.
The converter theft is covered under your automobile insurance’s comprehensive policy as it covers theft, vandalism and damage from tree limbs and other catastrophes.
In addition, it is recommended that you include rental car insurance in your policy since there can be long waits at the dealership for parts and service. There have been cases where one converter will come in and then there is a delay on the second converter. All of this can extend the length of your rental agreement.
As long as the market price on precious metals like rhodium continues to rise, the chance of theft does too, so protect yourself.
Even if you do not own a target like a Toyota Tacoma or Tundra or a Ford F-150, it is a good time to review your auto insurance policy.
Give your insurance agent a call and check your coverage today.