News and HeadlinesIndianapolis Local NewsCrime


At least 50 catalytic converters stolen in Indianapolis so far in January, reports show

Posted at 7:04 PM, Jan 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 17:09:21-05

INDIANAPOLIS — It's a widespread problem across Central Indiana, targeting anyone who drives a car. Thieves are stealing catalytic converters and it could cost you thousands of dollars for repairs.

"For the customer its $2,000 to $3,000 to replace but for the thief, it's only 30 seconds to a minute," Kyle Reasner with Rightway Automotive said.

WRTV pulled IMPD police reports, which show at least 50 catalytic converters have been stolen already between Jan. 1 and Jan. 18.

Over the weekend, Supervisor Paul Carlton with XL Auto Parts believes two catalytic converters were stolen from two of his delivery vans. Carlton said he found out when he went to go start the vans in the morning.

“So that’s taking deliveries away from a few people,” Carlton said.

Carlton has this message for the would-be thieves.

“It’s not worth stealing catalytic converters. You are not getting anything out of them — you are just costing us money,” Carlton said.

Why Catalytic Converters?

“It’s easy money – you can get under a car pretty quickly – with the right tools it's 30 seconds to a minute and they are gone,” Reasner said.

Thieves cut the converters out of the car's exhaust systems, then sell them to scrappers. They are then resold to recycling companies.

Catalytic Converter Thefts: Why It’s Happening And How To Protect Yours

The thieves get as little as $50, but the metals inside include rhodium, which is the rarest metal on earth.

There's only a gram or two of rhodium inside, but an ounce of the silvery metal can top $15,000.

Rhodium is used in converters with palladium and platinum to reduce exhaust gases, but as the rarest metal in the world, it's also valued for jewelry, high-end mirrors and electrical device.

Besides containing valuable metals that can be resold, catalytic converters are also fairly easy to remove from cars, especially if they are higher off the ground, such as on most pickup trucks. A common electric saw for getting through the exhaust pipe, and a drill for removing a few bolts, are essentially all that’s needed to remove one. The part can come off in just a couple minutes.

Thefts of catalytic converters seem to be a problem nationwide, from Hawaii to New Jersey and everywhere in between.

If you own a Honda Accord, Toyota Prius or Toyota Tacoma, you’re driving one of the most targeted of vehicles for these types of thefts. Priuses are targeted especially because they have two catalytic converters that often show less corrosion because they are hybrids.

Catalytic converters aren’t cheap to replace, either, often costing in the thousands of dollars, especially as the prices of the precious metals used to make them keep rising. If your catalytic converter is stolen, report the theft to police. This helps insurance companies, law enforcement and others lobby for new laws to raise the penalties for catalytic converter theft and create more regulations on the sale of the parts.

What Precautions Can You Take?

One of the most obvious deterrents to catalytic converter theft involves how and where you park your car.

Reasner recommends leaving your car parked in a garage to prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen, but what if you don’t have access to a garage?

“Cameras around the house – if you are not parking it in a safe area, don’t leave it there for too long,” Reasner said.

An effective car alarm will also help if you have to use street parking where you live. Also try to have a motion-activated light or security camera in the area where you park your vehicle, as an extra deterrent. The camera may not prevent theft but could aid in helping police track down the missing part and the people responsible.

Anti-theft devices for catalytic converters are available but are often vehicle-specific, so you’ll likely need to research the right anti-theft part for your vehicle’s make, model and year.

IMPD and Jiffy Lube have also partnered to start a programthat they hope will help to deter thieves from stealing catalytic converters.

A representative says the prevention initiative is still ongoing. The program is free of charge and no purchase is necessary. There are currently no events scheduled at this time.

This story contains information that originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for additional stories.