Catalytic converters part of a vehicle’s exhaust system and have been required on vehicles sold in the United States since the 1970s. They contain metals including palladium and platinum, which makes them a hot item for resale on the black market, according to police.
Reeve said the price of palladium has increased from $473 an ounce in 2016 to $2,400 now.
McDonald said catalytic converter thefts have increased as much as 10 times this year, and it is happening in cities throughout the county.
It is difficult to track the stolen converters because they don’t have serial numbers, and in some cases vehicle owners don’t even know the part is gone until they drive the car and notice it is not running properly. Repairing the vehicle from the theft can cost thousands of dollars.
Hamilton Police Sgt. Rich Burkhardt said there has also been an increase there. He said some Toyota models are targeted.
Likewise in Fairfield, where there has been an uptick in recent months, and the suspects are operating in broad daylight, according to Officer Doug Day.
“We’ve had some in crowded parking lots. Jungle Jim’s and places like that," Day said. “(Suspects) do call attention to themselves just walking around a parking lot. When they find a car the can get under and most are quick, some can do it in a minute or so.”
There are devices that can be ordered online to protect against catalytic converter theft, but most people don’t think about it or want the expense, police said.