WASHINGTON, USA — Editor's note: The above video originally aired April 26, 2022.
Catalytic converters thefts are up 33% nationwide so far in 2022, and Washington has some of the highest rates in the country.
These thefts have been going up since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the increasing value of the precious metals inside the converters is part of the problem, according to a report by BeenVerified.
In 2020, there was a jump in catalytic converter thefts by 325%, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
In 2021, the number of thefts quadrupled nationwide, according to BeenVerified.
So far in 2022, there had been 1,533 thefts in Washington, compared to the 42 thefts that were reported in the state in 2019. In 2021 there were more than 4,000 thefts in the state.
The report states that Washington was the third top state in the nation for catalytic converter thefts per 100,000 automobiles. Last year, Washington ranked number one on that same list.
These devices are being stolen because of the material that they are made of, which includes precious metals such as rhodium, palladium and platinum, according to the NICB. These metals are used to help clean the emissions of adverse compounds in cars, which is the function itself of the converter.
A bill aiming to dissuade catalytic converters thefts was signed into law by Governor Inslee in March. The bill, HB 1815, was created by Rep. Cindy Ryu and received approval from the Washington Housed of Representatives back in February.
“Stolen catalytic converters contain precious metals which can be sold for quick cash. However, the amount that thieves receive for a stolen catalytic converter is typically around 10 percent of the total costs suffered by the owners of the vehicles they are stolen from,” said Rep. Cindy Ryu in an official update on the bill. “Older vehicles are effectively totaled by catalytic converter theft, compounding the harm for people who depend on their vehicle to get to work, or to drive their kids to school.”
A person who steals a converter can get between $50 to $250, but this theft can cost the car owner between $1,000 to $3,000 to fix, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Insurance does not always cover the repairs.
In order to help prevent theft, car owners can purchase a catalytic converter anti-theft device. It is also recommended to park your car in a locked garage or in a well-lit, transited area. BeenVerified also suggests engraving your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and phone number in the device.