Catalytic converter thefts creating shortage of replacement parts

Catalytic converters are a common target for thieves and getting them replaced could be costly. WSMV's Tosin Fakile explains.
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 6:32 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Catalytic converter thefts haven’t slowed down in Nashville and across the country and some car repair shops said the thefts are leading to a shortage of parts.

According to State Farm Insurance, Tennessee ranked 17th in the country when it comes to catalytic converter thefts.

“It was bad there for a while and then it slowed down for a little bit and now it’s probably worse than it was even before,” William Vaughn with Midas Service Center on Charlotte Pike said.

The repair shop said they’ve been working on vehicles with stolen catalytic converters more frequently.

“Monday, Tuesday and today, we’ve done three a day. Saturday, we did three. Friday, I think we did two or three. It’s a bunch,” Vaughn said. “Not counting the phone calls, I probably get three or four phone calls a day. It’s pretty bad.”

According to State Farm claims data, in the 12-month period comprised of 2021 (January-December), the theft of catalytic converters grew close to 318% nationwide, in terms of number of claims filed compared to the previous 12 months.

The catalytic converter is part of a car’s emission system that filters out the bad exhaust.

At Midas Service Center, it costs anywhere from $500 to $3,000 to replace a catalytic converter. Experts said Toyotas and Hondas are major targets for catalytic converter thefts, and Toyota Prius are targeted even more.

These days getting that car part for a Prius could be more difficult.

“The Prius, certain years of those, they are on national backorder. The production can’t even keep up with it,” Vaughn said. “Certain year models, I think from 2016 to 2019, they’re almost obsolete.”

Vaughn said people may have to replace and pay for more than the catalytic converter when it’s stolen.

“When they’re stealing those converters, they are taking these high dollar oxygen sensors,” Vaughn said. “They’re cutting the converters off and snatching the wires out and taking those. Some of those oxygen sensors, they’re as much as the converter or more.”

Experts advise car owners to protect their vehicles by parking inside a garage if they have one; park in a well-lit area; install an alarm system; use a Catclamp catalytic converter lock.

“I’ve not installed one yet. I have a customer that is going to bring me one next week and we’ll see how it goes together,” Vaughn said.

According to State Farm Insurance, in 2021 there were more than 18,000 of these parts stolen and reported by State Farm customers, compared to just over 4,500 in 2020.

The insurance company said in terms of payouts, the total amount paid to customers in 2021 was more than $33.7 million.

State Farm Insurance advises people to check to see if they have comprehensive coverage on their car insurance policy. The insurance company said that coverage covers the theft of your entire vehicle or its parts.