Catalytic converter thefts down for first time since 2019
Increasing efforts from law enforcement and legislators seem to be working
The days of the missing cat aren’t over, but new data from State Farm suggests that they’re being significantly reduced. Increased diligence from law enforcement and new laws seem to be having an effect.
State Farm’s data for the first half of 2023 shows the first decline in catalytic converter thefts since 2019. In the period, State Farm had 14,500 claims in 2023, down from 23,000 in 2022.
Over all of 2022, State Farm says it paid out 45,000 claims for converter theft, amounting to $115.4 million in claims. For comparison, 2019 saw just 2,500 claims and $4.7m.
Catalytic converters are an essential emissions controls device. They use expensive metals which react with exhaust gasses to turn harmful unburnt fuel, carbon monoxide, and oxides of nitrogen into less harmful gasses and water. With some cats containing more than $1,000 of expensive metals, they are extremely valuable to thieves.
California remains the top state for thefts of the emissions control device, with 5,400 claims in the first half of 2023. Texas was second with 1,450. Lawmakers in California passed three bills to address theft including one that provided more resources for investigation, one that limits who can sell a catalytic converter (requiring proof of vehicle ownership) and one requiring metal recyclers to keep more thorough documentation.
There have also been several recent high-profile arrests as a result of efforts to break up theft rings. A family in Sacramento, CA, pleaded guilty to transporting converters and was reportedly paid $38m for their role. Another syndicate was brought down last year and is estimated to be responsible for more than 22,000 thefts.