AAA Reports Catalytic Converter Thefts Soaring

Insurance and automotive experts offer money saving advice to drivers

PRESS RELEASE – Catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed nationwide since the start of the pandemic, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). In Ohio, AAA has recorded an increase in insurance claims and automotive repair requests related to stolen catalytic converters. AAA advises drivers who park outside to make sure they have the right insurance coverage and consider taking proactive measures to protect their vehicle from thieves.

What is a catalytic converter, and why do thieves want them?

A catalytic converter is a device that controls vehicle emissions by converting pollutants into less toxic gasses. Thieves target them because they contain precious metals, such as platinum, palladium or rhodium. These precious metals have become more valuable in recent years. As the price of metals has soared, so have catalytic converter thefts.

NICB recorded an average of 108 catalytic converter thefts per month in 2018. Thefts started climbing in 2019 and soared in 2020 to a high of 2,347 thefts in Dec. 2020.

“Thieves can remove a catalytic converter in a matter of minutes, and leave the vehicle owner with a hefty repair bill,” said Steve Miller, ASE certified technician and manager of the Grandview AAA Car Care Plus. “It can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to replace a catalytic converter, depending on the vehicle. Plus, you’ll often have additional damage that needs to be repaired when thieves hastily remove catalytic converters from cars.”

Protecting your vehicle:

Parking in a garage or a secured parking area is the best way to prevent catalytic converter thefts. But, that’s not always an option. AAA recommends drivers that park on the streets take the following precautions to protect their vehicle from catalytic converter theft.

  • Work to deter thieves: Park under a light, and consider installing motion sensor security lights. Lock car doors and set a camera and vehicle alarm, if possible.
  • Consider installing an anti-theft device: These devices usually cost between $100 and $300 and prevent thieves from cutting out the catalytic converter.
  • Make sure you have comprehensive insurance coverage: If a catalytic converter theft does occur, insurance can help cover the cost, but you need to have comprehensive coverage. You will still need to pay the deductible, but the cost to replace a catalytic converter and repair the damage typically exceeds the deductible payment.

“Protecting yourself from an unexpected loss starts with having the right insurance,” said Ed Conley, director, insurance operations for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “Comprehensive coverage is usually an inexpensive coverage to add to your vehicle, regardless of the age, and will make sure you are protected from this type of loss.”

AAA provides more than 62 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at

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