Catalytic Converter Theft Poses a Big Risk to Car Dealers

August of 2022, police detectives brought down a $22 million catalytic converter trafficking operation that spanned six states and involved over 44,000 stolen converters. Just one month later in September of 2022, thieves hit a commercial vehicle sales center just outside of Orlando, FL, and made off with 36 catalytic converters from trucks housed at the business. The businesses estimated the cost to replace and repair the affected vehicles would cost north of $30,000.

From 2018 to 2020, the annual number of catalytic converter thefts jumped over 1,000%. And as the price of the precious metals continues to rise, the theft of these coveted auto parts shows no signs of slowing. For businesses where multi-vehicle storage is necessary, such as new car dealerships, catalytic converter thefts can have a big impact on profits and operations. The good news is a smart combination of modern technology and manpower is just the kind of solution businesses need to stop the theft of catalytic converters and other sought-after auto parts, stolen vehicles, and vandalism to assets and property.

Why are Catalytic Converters Stolen?

A catalytic converter is an essential piece of vehicle equipment that, as the name implies, converts harmful engine exhaust pollutants into less harmful outputs. The rhodium, palladium, and platinum used inside catalytic converters to covert the “bad’ pollutants are known to be quite valuable. As of 2022, rhodium is valued at close to $20,000 per ounce with palladium and platinum going for $2,938 and $1,128 per ounce, respectively. One catalytic converter can go for an estimated $500 on the black market, making it an attractive target for thieves.

Business With Vehicle Storage are at a Higher Risk

Some of the most obvious targets for catalytic converter theft are businesses where multiple vehicles are available in close proximity to one another, such as car dealerships, commercial or recreational vehicle sales centers, car rental agencies, and mechanics. Here, large numbers of vehicles are accessible, and often in poorly lit and protected areas. Given that a catalytic converter theft can occur in under 30 seconds, it is feasible that multiple thefts can occur at a single location in just a matter of minutes. Replacing one catalytic converter alone can be costly, ranging anywhere from $200 to $3,000. Multiply these costs by multiple vehicles, plus labor and lost personnel time, and the costs of catalytic converter replacement for multiple vehicles can quickly add up.

Why Other Prevention Techniques Don’t Work 

To prevent automobile and auto-part theft, law enforcement agencies across the country advise that cars be kept in either a locked garage or well-lit area, but this is not always an option – especially for multi-vehicle storage locations. Insurance companies also often recommend etching the car’s VIN onto the catalytic converter so it is easily identifiable. The idea is that a thief who sees the etching moves on to an easier, less traceable target, however, this is not a practical solution for most businesses. Another option is to invest in anti-theft devices, a cage or shield-like device that fits over the catalytic converter, but this poses a significant investment in personnel time and additional equipment inventory.

The deterrence factor of video surveillance cameras does not seem to be effective these days with criminals realizing they are purely reactive solutions. Security guards also do not provide much of a deterrent either as they can only be in one place at a time and often lack the training and skillsets to stop vehicle and parts thefts before they happen or while they are occurring.

An Effective Solution for Car Dealers

A far more realistic, cost-effective option would be for businesses with substantial vehicle storage to deploy a remote guarding solution. A remote guarding solution is a unique combination of technology and manpower resources wherein criminal activity is prevented even before an incident occurs. By using military-derived AI technology, people and vehicles are automatically detected when they enter a dealership property. If a suspicious person or activity is observed, highly trained security professionals at a state-of-the-art command center directly address the detected individual(s) over a two-way security audio system, alerting them they are being watched and requesting them to leave immediately. This ground-breaking solution also includes close partnerships with local police so if any alerted activity indicates that an imminent crime or threat is occurring, the police are notified to respond immediately.

A proactive and preventive auto parts and vehicle theft solution, remote guarding is far easier, more cost-efficient, and more effective to deploy than VIN number etching and other forms of anti-theft devices. It also eliminates the high costs associated with ineffective security deterrents such as on-premises security guards. Furthermore, remote guarding can prevent more than just catalytic converter theft, as the solution monitors all forms of suspicious activities and potential threats. In fact, remote guarding is proven to be effective in preventing up to 96% of crimes without involvement from law enforcement!

Contact us today to learn more about how remote guarding can protect your vehicle rental, storage, or dealership business against the growing threat of catalytic converter theft!

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