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Is Catalytic Converter Theft an Increasing Trend for Teens?

August 17th 2023

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You may have already heard in the news about careless and dangerous Tik Tok trends plaguing the country. From the Tide pod challenge to the "Kia Boys" challenge, where teenagers hotwire a Kia or Hyundai vehicle with a USB drive and go for a reckless joyride. The copycat crime aspect of today's world spreads faster than ever with a smartphone in the pockets of roughly 95% of today's teenagers. With the steady rise of stolen catalytic converters in the last three years, American youngsters may be jumping on the bandwagon of making a quick buck from the resale of this valuable exhaust part that rests beneath your parked vehicle.

Glendora, CA is a suburban community a few hours east of Los Angeles and though it may not be the first case of a teenager stealing a catalytic converter, a July 2023 crime report states multiple teens were charged in stealing up to 14 catalytic converters from parked cars at a Glendora movie theater. Another criminal case in 2022 involved several teenagers cutting catalytic converters from cars and trucks in a mall parking lot in Woodlands, TX.

The typical catalytic converter thief is the type with a gambling or addiction problem. Someone who needs fast money and willing to risk their life, reputation, and freedom for a few hundred dollars. As this type of auto part theft becomes more popularized through social media, it may be your next-door neighbor's kid or even a family member who is attracted to the easy cash flow available from a victimless robbery.

Stealing Catalytic Converters for Profit: A Troubling Trend

For years, various catalytic converter rings have been broken up across the nation. With small family criminal rings running out of their home garage in a gated community in Louisiana to a Philadelphia car towing company getting caught with over $1 million in stolen catalytic converters, the criminal element of stealing these emissions control devices, is mainly due to the soaring market prices for rare and precious metals. Recent data from the Council on Criminal Justice reports a 34% increase in motor vehicle thefts since 2022. Because cars that are parked outside are vulnerable to theft, they are also targets for catalytic converter thieves. Mainly because it is easy to leave no trace behind after committing the crime.

With inflation at an all-time and the ever-unpredictable economy or the actual worth of a college degree, the trend of thievery is growing. From the suburbs to the cities, catalytic converter criminals have turned out to be younger in some cases, and it doesn't take a genius to put two and two together on why kids are taking the risk to earn a few bucks. With economic woes and high value for precious metals, catalytic converters are an easy target for obtaining up to $1000 worth of platinum, palladium, and rhodium in one night-time run.

On the black market, a single catalytic converter can sell for anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on the amount of precious metals it contains. This high resale value has only fueled the crime further, with thieves targeting parked and moving vehicles to steal these valuable components in some cases.

Preventing Your Teen from Becoming a Catalytic Converter Thief

The allure of making quick cash and gaining recognition among their peers has enticed some teenagers to engage in these criminal activities. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness about these thefts' consequences and seriousness has resulted in more young people participating in stealing catalytic converters. Apart from the financial impact on victims, the environmental repercussions due to increased air pollution from stolen catalytic converters are significant as well.

If you're concerned about your teenager getting involved in auto or catalytic converter thefts, the best thing a parent can do is listen, remain alert on their whereabouts at night, and if possible keep them busy enough with a job or schooling to not have the time to commit criminal acts.

Combatting Catalytic Converter Theft

As catalytic converter theft continues to be a growing concern, it is crucial for vehicle owners to take preventive measures to protect their cars. One effective way to deter thieves is by installing catalytic converter security shield guards that make it more challenging for criminals to access and remove the converters.

Additionally, staying vigilant and reporting any suspicious activities to law enforcement can help in curbing this crime. By raising awareness about the consequences and dangers of catalytic converter theft, we can discourage potential offenders, including teenagers, from engaging in these illegal activities.

Protect Your Vehicle with Genuine Undercarriage Shield Guard

Join Cat Security in the fight against catalytic converter theft by securing your vehicle with a reliable shield guard for your car, truck, or SUV's undercarriage. If you don't happen to see your vehicle's catalytic converter shield plate, sign up to get on our waiting list.