What’s the new "hot" item for thieves? Believe it or not, thefts of catalytic converters are quickly escalating in many cities.
Apparently, the converters, which reduce pollution, contain small amounts of high-priced metals like platinum and palladium, reports the Detroit News and the AP. Copper pipes, wire and sewer grates have recently become hot items as well, as thieves sell the metals for cash, usually at scrap yards.
Catalytic converter theft is said to be very simple. A thief slides under a vehicle and cuts out the converter with a battery-powered saw, which only takes a few minutes.
Scrap yards usually pay about $50 to $100 for a converter. The cost for the vehicle owner to replace it is much more though, ranging from about $200 to $1,000.
Catalytic converters have been standard equipment on vehicles since the mid-1970s, and some newer vehicles have up to four.
So how do you protect your converter from getting stolen? For about $225, you can buy the CatClamp, a tough-to-cut converter cage sold by American Welders Inc. of Toledo. Police say the best defense is a watchful eye, a bit of luck and increased awareness among law enforcement.