Thieves Are Targeting Catalytic Converters At Record Rates

CHARLOTTE, NC – Thefts of one particular car part are skyrocketing locally and across the country. Thieves are targeting catalytic converters and they’re working quickly to rip them off.

Over the weekend, Bob Gaudioso got a call from his wife, who was shopping at the Arboretum off of Pineville-Matthews road.

“She said her car sounded like a motorcycle. It was really really loud,” explained Gaudioso.

Knowing something was clearly wrong, Bob took the 2005 Prius to the auto shop.

“On monday morning, they called me up and said that someone cut the catalytic converter out of the car,” said Gaudioso.

The crime happens fast.

“They’re just taking a skill saw and just zoom zoom in two spots and the whole thing comes falling out,” said Gaudioso.

“If it’s an SUV or a truck, they could easily crawl right up under there with a saw and chop it right off and be in and out in five minutes,” said Brandon Littlejohn.

Littlejohn is an auto mechanic at Hughes Automotive. He says he’s seeing more and more catalytic converter thefts.

“I think it’s just getting worse with time. I think more people are finding out about it,” said Littlejohn.

The numbers back it up.

In Charlotte in 2019 there were 218 catalytic converter thefts. In 2020 that number shot up to 862. And in just two months of 2021, there has already been 193 thefts.

“There is a big big market for it,” said Littlejohn.

It’s happening across the country. Crooks are after the precious metals, like platinum, inside the catalytic converter, which is part of the car’s exhaust system.

“They could go for as high as four to five hundred dollars a piece because of the precious metals,” said Littlejohn.

Gaudioso says people should be on the lookout.

“Obviously if you see something, say something,” said Gaudioso.

The thefts have become such an issue that there are now calls for Toyota to recall the Prius in order to have a protective shield installed over top of the catalytic converter.
Right now, Prius owners can purchase the shield themselves for about $300.