My wife works for the State of Louisiana and a few weeks back she told me that in two separate occasions, the catalytic converters were stolen from a total of ten different state owned vehicles, just in the Shreveport/Bossier area alone.

According to carbrain.com, the replacement of these legally required, emissions control systems will average from $945 to $2,475 including parts and labor. That's an average of $2,182 each.  So, in less than a week's time, Louisiana taxpayers are hit with a repair bill of approximately $20,000.

To top it off, these thieves don't discriminate when it comes to the entities from which they'll steal.  KTBS reported a few weeks back, the Bossier Parish Ministry, Men of Courage, had the catalytic converter stolen from their church bus. Open Road Fellowship in Haughton suffered the same loss from their vehicle.

So, Why Have Catalytic Converters Been Stolen So Often?

Nj.com reports that the biggest factor leading to the theft of these catalytic converters is the ease with which they're stolen and the sheer volume of precious metals they contain.  Apparently, most converters can be swiped by a seasoned thief in less than 10 minutes without causing much noise.

As far as those precious metals are concerned, wasteadvantagemag.com states than the average catalytic converter contains "about 3-7 grams of platinum, 2-7 grams of palladium, 1-2 grams rhodium."

Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images
Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images
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How Valuable Are These Metals?

The website metalsdaily.com, which lists live precious metal prices, much like the NASDAQ for regular stocks, shows that at this writing:

  • Platinum - $1,031 per ounce
  • Palladium - $2,275 per ounce
  • Rhodium - $17,200 per ounce

What Kind of Money Are We Talking About Here?

Since there are just over 28 grams in an ounce, using the quantities above, each converter could potentially bring in some serious cash.

  • Platinum - $257
  • Palladium - $568
  • Rhodium - $1,228

That's a total of just over $2,053!  Of course, these thieves aren't going to get top dollar for their ill-gotten goods, but even at half price, they could potentially net over $1,000 for less than ten minutes of work.

What To Do To Protect Your Vehicle

Farmers.com lists three ways to help reduce the odds that your catalytic converter might be stolen

  1. Etch your license plate number onto your catalytic converter.
  2. Park in well-lit areas.
  3. Install an anti-theft device.

Yes, it's sad that we've got to take these steps just to protect what we own, but replacing one of these bad boys isn't cheap, so the time spent with "an ounce of prevention" might be the best investment you make this year.

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