A Texas-based crime ring has recently been caught with over $NZ1.5 million worth of stolen catalytic converters in their possession.
Car and Driver report that catalytic converter thefts are running rampant in the United States at the moment with over 400 of the units found in one house in Houston alone. Police have received more than 6000 reports of the thefts in the first six months of 2022.
Thieves generally steal the converters by simply getting under a car and cutting them out of an exhaust system giving them a relatively easy pay day.
You may be wondering why criminals would go out of their way to steal hundreds if not thousands of humble exhaust gas emissions control devices. It isn’t the function of the catalytic converter itself that thieves so desire, but rather the precious metals contained inside of them.
Materials used to eliminate harmful gasses like nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide include valuable metals including platinum, rhodium and palladium.
For context, the current price for an ounce of rhodium currently fetches around $NZ21,000 according to kitco.com. This is why it can be extremely costly to have a catalytic converter replaced.
So if you hop in your car and turn it on only to be greeted by an abnormal amount of noise coming from your newly modified exhaust, this is likely the reason.
However, the thefts haven’t been quite as prevalent in New Zealand although there have been multiple reports of the crime in the past year.