New plan to prevent catalytic converter theft, the exhaust filter is worth more than its weight in gold

New plan to prevent catalytic converter theft, the exhaust filter is worth more than its weight in gold

In response to the sharp rise in thefts of catalytic converters – the exhaust filter is worth more than its weight in gold – US authorities are proposing strict new markings.

The US Congress is considering a mandate to identify vehicles with markings on catalytic converters – the exhaust filter system is worth more than its weight in gold – after a sharp rise in thefts of the device by rogues.

Auto criminals are now crawling under parked cars — in driveways, in mall parking lots, and in dealership forecourts — to cut out and steal the core of the exhaust pipe, which contains precious metals.

Catalytic converters are targeted by thieves because they contain precious metals like rhodium – worth about eight times as much per gram as gold.

Thieves use pipe cutters and chainsaws to cut exhaust pipes to remove catalytic converters – and car owners get none the wiser until they try to start the car the next day.

The stolen goods are sold for cash to unscrupulous recyclers, who then extract precious metals and sell them on to refiners.

As reported by Automotive NewsThe US Legislature has submitted a bill to the House and Senate that will require catalytic converters in new vehicles to be stamped with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) – the unique 17-digit “fingerprint” that a vehicle carries throughout its lifetime.

If passed, the law — known as the Preventing Auto Recycling Theft (PART) Act — would allow law enforcement officials to link a suspect part to the car from which it was stolen.

Automotive News says the proposed legislation could also lead to the establishment of a grant program that would provide dealers and service centers with funds to stamp VINs on existing cars’ catalytic converters.

According to the US National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were 1,298 reported thefts of catalytic converters in 2018. The organization said it received 14,433 reports in 2020 — a staggering increase of more than 1,000 percent in just two years.

The theft, sale and extraction of precious metals from catalytic converters is a multi-million dollar black market industry in the US, although authorities have recently indicted at least 36 criminals for their involvement in unscrupulous activities.

In August 2022, a police operation in the US city of Portland, Oregon, uncovered more than 44,000 catalytic converters stolen from car exhaust – with an estimated street value of US$22 million (AU$33 million).

In November 2022, US authorities busted a nationwide crime ring that allegedly made more than US$545 million (AU$814 million) from the theft, sale and extraction of precious metals from catalytic converters.

The increase in catalytic converter thefts also prompted Toyota’s US division to introduce an anti-theft device designed to deter the Prius hybrid car from becoming the target of the attacks. Most hybrid vehicles have high-tech anti-pollution devices with even more precious metals than the average car.

As reported in December, the new Toyota Prius in the US can be purchased with an optional “Cat Shield,” which covers the catalytic converter with an aluminum plate — although the product’s manufacturer, MillerCat, has admitted the device is “the most effective one.” visual deterrent to thieves than an actual physical deterrent.”

Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach was born in Canberra/Ngunnawal and currently resides in Brisbane/Turrbal. Jordan joined the Drive team in 2022 and has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. A self-proclaimed iRacing addict, Jordan finds himself either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or berating his ZH Fairlane over the weekend.

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