If you've been following local news over the past few months, you've likely noticed an increasing number of stories where a vehicle has had its catalytic converter stolen. If you haven't been following local news over the past few months, let me be the first to tell you there's been an increasing number of stories where a vehicle has had its catalytic converter stolen. Not just here in Evansville, but nationwide. In an effort to help vehicle owners like you from becoming the next victim, the Evansville Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit is offering a few tips on how to decrease your chances of that happening.

What in the World is a Catalytic Converter?

If you're looking for the complete history of the catalytic converter, who invented it, the different types, etc., the Universal Technical Institute offers a pretty thorough breakdown on their website. For our purposes, all you need to know is that it is mounted under your vehicle and is part of the emissions and exhaust system. What it does (I'm paraphrasing here) is filter out all the toxic stuff from the engine fumes before they blow out the exhaust pipe.

Why Would Someone Want to Steal It?

Why in the world would someone want to steal a part of your car you may not have never heard of in the first place? The same reason thieves steal anything — because there's money in them there converters!

Catalytic Converters contain precious metals like platinum, palladium, or rhodium to filter the "toxic stuff." All of which have seen a rise in value over the past few years, particularly the past year and a half or so as mining output was reduced thanks to everyone's new, least-favorite c-word, COVID. According to an article written in May by Kate Gibson with CBS News, rhodium alone was "valued at $14,500 an ounce in December." An ounce! Meanwhile, palladium was at $2,336 and platinum was going for $1,061 an ounce. A thief won't get anywhere near that much however, they could score anywhere between $20 to $200 per converter from a metal recycler.

How to Protect Yourself

The Crime Prevention Unit shared these tips on their Facebook page recently, and while they may not completely prevent you from having your converter stolen, at the very least they may make a thief think twice or help authorities find the person responsible if you become a victim.

  1. Park in a garage or well-lit area if possible
  2. Engrave your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into your converter. This will help authorities trace it to your vehicle.
  3. Install a catalytic converter protection device (Amazon has several for a variety of makes and models).
  4. Install a car alarm to go off when it detects vibration.

Obviously, the last two will cost you a little bit out of pocket, but both are cheaper than having to get a new converter installed which can run as much as $3,000.

Stay safe!

[Sources: EPD Crime Prevention Unit on Facebook / CBS News]

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

KEEP READING: See the iconic cars that debuted the year you were born