A rise in the number of car insurance claims seen lately for catalytic converter theft has been noticed in St. Louis, according to a report from local CBS affiliate KMOV.
The thieves tend to target vehicles that have been parked in large commuter lots, where many cars will be left for an extended period of time. While some take the time to remove the converters without damaging the car, most simply saw the component out of the vehicle, causing severe secondary damage and increasing the amount of money auto insurance policies have to pay out for repairs.
Catalytic converters are an important part of the emissions control system on a vehicle, filtering harmful pollutants out of the car’s exhaust.
One local man who spoke to KMOV said it cost him $275 to replace the stolen part, though he fears a second theft since his car spends nights outside. Workers at a body shop in St. Louis told the news station they had seen three cases of stolen catalytic converters in the past four days.
KMOV reports that the thieves are after the small quantities of platinum used in the construction of the devices. Platinum is a valuable metal and even the little within a catalytic converter can fetch a fair price if thieves know how to extract it.
According to the news station, catalytic converter theft is not a problem limited to the St. Louis area, however. Car owners across the country have been feeling the pinch as their vehicles are targeted. KMOV reports muffler shops in Oregon have even begun voluntarily placing anti-theft devices in vehicles they work on to help crack down on such criminals.