Thieves are targeting car parts as precious industrial metals have become more valuable than gold

  • Thieves are targeting catalytic converters in cars as prices of some rare metals used in them have hit records this year.
  • Catalytic converter thefts have quadrupled in New York over the last year. 
  • The thefts have also been reported in other parts of the world including the UK and Japan.

Thieves are going after car parts as prices of rare metals in catalytic converters hit new highs this year.

Theft of the devices, which are a part of a car’s exhaust that converts smog to less harmful emissions, have quadrupled over the last year, according to the New York Post.

Through Oct. 10 this year, 2,170 catalytic converters have been stolen statewide, up from 501 last year, the newspaper reported, citing the NYPD.

“The whole process takes under two minutes,” Detective Thomas Kelly of the state’s Auto Crimes Unit told the Post.

Similar increases in thefts have been reported in California, Maine, and Illinois.

Even though there are just a few grams of expensive metals like rhodium, palladium, and platinum in catalytic converters, they command high prices even on the scrap market.

Rhodium hit a record price of around $30,000 an ounce in March, and palladium hit record prices of around $3,000 an ounce in May. While both have come off highs, they are still more expensive than gold which currently goes for about $1,800 an ounce. Meanwhile, platinum is selling for around $1,000 an ounce.

The spike in catalytic converter theft isn’t just hitting the US.  

In the UK, theft of the car part has surged this year, reported the BBC. Motoring organization RAC and insurer Ageas said in April the crime accounted for 30% of theft from private vehicles, up from 20% before the pandemic.

In Japan, such theft has been reported too, according to the Nikkei. The country’s National Police Agency is calling on recycling companies to verify identities of those selling scrap, and to keep records of the transactions, the news outlet added.

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