Crime Alert – Catalytic Converter Thefts

Over the past several months, there has been an increase in catalytic converter thefts throughout Newark and New Castle County.  The City of Newark has experienced thefts throughout the City, including residential neighborhoods and industrial parks.  The information and tips below may help prevent becoming the victim of a catalytic converter theft.

What is a catalytic converter?

The catalytic converter turns dangerous pollutants into harmless gases. It has been a required feature of a vehicle’s exhaust system since the 1970s and is located near the engine’s exhaust manifold on most cars. It can be easily seen from underneath a car.

How/why are catalytic converters stolen?

Suspects often remove catalytic converters with saws and snipping tools. The entire process can take just minutes. Catalytic converters are sold for the precious metals they contain.

How do you know your catalytic converter is missing?

You will be able to tell that something is wrong immediately after turning on the car after your catalytic converter has been stolen. You will notice the following three signs:

  • A loud rumbling or roaring sound will emanate from the engine, which will increase in volume as you press the gas pedal.
  • The car will drive rough and feel like it is sputtering while changing speeds.
  • If you check beneath the car from the back side, you will notice a gaping hole in the machinery, near the middle of the exhaust system.  In addition, pieces of piping will be torn away.

Most frequently targeted vehicles:

Vehicles in commercial/industrial establishments that are not in view of surveillance systems.  In Newark, Honda Elements and Honda CRVs are the most frequently targeted vehicles.

How to prevent catalytic converter theft:

Since converter thieves tend to target cars at ideal locations, most prevention methods surround parking practices. Here are six tips to prevent catalytic converter theft:

  1. Park in well-lit areas.
  2. Park close to building entrances or the nearest road in public parking lots. This leaves your vehicle in a location where many people can see it.
  3. If you have a personal garage, keep your vehicle parked inside with the door shut.
  4. Add video surveillance to the area where you regularly park your vehicle.
  5. Install a catalytic converter-specific security device, or have the catalytic converter welded to the vehicle’s frame. You can also engrave your vehicle’s VIN number on the catalytic converter.
  6. Adjust the security system on your vehicle, if already installed, to activate from vibrations, such as those produced by a saw.

Remember to call the police agency where your car was parked when your catalytic converter was stolen to report the theft.  Provide any identifying details that you can.