Police say Toyota Prius is most targeted car for catalytic converter theft

45 converters stolen since January in Salisbury
Thieves are after precious metals like rhodium and platinum used in catalytic converters.
Thieves are after precious metals like rhodium and platinum used in catalytic converters.(WBTV File)
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 6:25 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 6:38 AM EDT
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SALISBURY N.C. (WBTV) - Police in Salisbury are warning drivers about the rise in the theft of catalytic converters, and they say the Toyota Prius is the vehicle most likely to be targeted.

“We have had 45 reported catalytic converter thefts since January,” the Salisbury Police Department posted on its social media page. “We have listed in order the vehicles that have had the most thefts, Toyota Prius, SUV’s of all makes, pickup trucks of all makes, van’s (mostly Honda), passenger cars (mostly Honda), 2 U-Haul trucks and one box-style truck.”

It should be noted that the Toyota Prius leads the nation in catalytic converter thefts. Car experts say since the Prius is a hybrid, the catalytic converter corrodes less than on other cars, keeping the precious metal coating in better shape. It’s also one of the most expensive to replace, costing between $2700 and $4100.

Thieves steal catalytic converters to get the precious metals rhodium and platinum. Scrap metal recyclers can turn those precious metals into cash, and in many cases, they may be acting within the law and are unaware of the theft. Each converter could bring in anywhere between $20 to $250 in recycling value, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Five ways to prevent thefts: #preventionofcatalyticconverterthefts

-know if your vehicle is a target and park in better lit areas or near cameras.

-Install an anti-theft device on your catalytic converter

-paint your catalytic converter or add etched numbers to identify that it is yours

- Set an alarm or camera to catch thieves

-Check car insurance to make sure you have full coverage in the case of theft

These types of thefts take less than five minutes.

“You will usually see someone crawl under vehicles that set up higher or they will bring a rapid pump car jack to raise the vehicles,” the SPD posted. “The thief will bring a reciprocating saw (Sawzall) and they can remove the catalytic converter in less than 30 seconds.”

In most cases, the suspects will park beside or close to the victim’s car.

“We are asking that the community be more alert and suspicious if they see anything that is described above and call 911.”

Last week Governor Cooper signed a bill into law that increases the fine for stealing catalytic converters and the law clarifies that anyone in possession of a catalytic converter could be charged, although exemptions would be made for those who own cars with catalytic converters and those who are licensed or registered as a car dealer or mechanic, as well as salvage yards and secondary metals recyclers.

Senate Bill 99 also requires metal recyclers to maintain copies of documentation the metal recycler relied on to determine a seller was authorized to sell a catalytic converter to the secondary metals recycler.

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