The motorheads among us will already know this but for the rest of us, we need this as background to a potential crime.  What's a catalytic converter and what does it do?

Google search reveals - Your catalytic converter is named as such because it converts toxins into less harmful byproducts, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide. Without this component, your vehicle will no longer be filtering and reducing harmful emissions, including hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide


So why would someone want to steal a catalytic converter when the intent is to help the environment? Answer: Because thieves are more interested in helping themselves and particularly here in Washington State!

The website BeenVerified' conducted a study on theft and they believe that catalytic converter thefts have more than tripled across the U.S. in the first nine months of 2021 when compared to the full year of 2020.

Historically, 40% of all annual thefts happen in the last three months of the year, so it's likely this crime isn't slowing down anytime soon. 


By the end of September BeenVerified calculated there were 49,611 thefts nationwide—a 244% increase from all reported thefts of catalytic converters in 2020, a previous record year for these thefts. 2021 is on track to more than quadruple catalytic converter thefts and here's the local bad news.

The state of Washington has seen a four hundred seventy percent increase in this crime so far in 2021, when compared to the full year of 2020..

  • California, Texas and Washington are top states for theft. The top states for theft through September 30 this year are California (14,112 thefts), Texas (6,105), Washington (3,379), Minnesota (2,025) and Colorado (1,840).
  • Top states per 100,000 vehicles are Washington, Minnesota and Colorado. Washington state has averaged 117 catalytic converter thefts per 100,000 registered vehicles, followed by Minnesota (111), Colorado (107), Oregon (104) and California (96).
  • Toyota, Honda and Lexus vehicles are top targets. The most popular cars by make and model targeted by catalytic converter thieves in 2020 were the Toyota Prius, Honda Element, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Tacoma and Honda Accord.



2019 catalytic converter thefts42
2020 catalytic converter thefts592
2021 catalytic converter thefts3,379
2020 thefts per 100,000 registered automobiles21
2021 thefts per 100,000 registered automobiles117
Percentage change thefts YoY 2019 vs 20201324.6%
Percentage change thefts 2020 vs YTD 2021470.5%
Ranking - thefts per 100,000 automobiles in 20211


Washington is top ten in percentage increase and we are NUMBER ONE in thefts per 100-thousand vehicles.  So why?  What are bad guys after from and environmental assist like a catalytic converter?

The study says, "the converters contain platinum, palladium or rhodium, precious metals that have seen their value skyrocket over the past two years. The theft of a catalytic converter can be done in minutes by culprits, who then resell to recyclers for between $50 and $250 per part. The cost to repair is between $1,000 and $3,000, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau."


There are a few things you can do to minimize your chance of theft but if someone once yours, well.....

Suggestions from experts to try and deter catalytic converter theft include:

  • Consider installing a catalytic converter anti-theft device in your vehicle.
  • When possible, park your car in a locked garage.
  • If not possible, make sure it’s parked in a well-lit area or install motion-activated lights and security cameras.
  • In public parking garages and lots, park near the front of the building entrance or other areas where pedestrian traffic is high.
  • Engrave your vehicle VIN and phone number into your catalytic converter.

We're number one, we're number one...and that's NOT the place we want to be!

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