LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Sixty seconds.
That’s about how long it takes for an experienced thief to remove your catalytic converter with a cordless reciprocal saw.
A quick removal time combined with the high value of the precious metals contained within catalytic converters has made the car part into a popular target for petty theft across the United States in 2022.
Lansing Police Captain Christopher Baldwin said thieves can sell catalytic converters to metal recycling centers.
“They sell them to metal recyclers. There’s no way to track it to a car to say it’s stolen,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said the Lansing Police Department noticed the trend really begin to take off in the past two years. He estimates that the department receives around 20 calls per month reporting stolen catalytic converters.
“Sometimes they’ll hit a parking lot at a time. They’ll get three or four, just like that,” Baldwin said.
The surefire sign that your catalytic converter has been stolen is an unusually loud exhaust. That’s usually what a driver first notices before discovering that their car has been burglarized for parts.
Baldwin said the ease-of-use and low operating volume of battery-operated cordless reciprocal saws has made it very easy for a thief to remove a catalytic converter from a car left in an isolated area such as an empty street or parking lot.
“Generally, they’ve done this before, they know the areas where the metal is thinner and they’re able to cut them really quickly,” Baldwin said.
Asides from leaving your car in a garage or a well-lit area, a popular method to deter theft is to have your catalytic converter etched with your vehicle’s VIN number. The Lansing Police Department sponsored an event where drivers could have their converters etched for free earlier this month.
Baldwin said it’s up to metal recycling businesses to set their own policies on what they’ll accept from private sellers. Thieves can net approximately $100 for the precious metals inside a catalytic converter.
If you find your catalytic converter stolen, Baldwin recommends filing a report with the Lansing Police Department.