Catalytic converter thefts rose steadily and steeply nationwide throughout 2020, increasing from 652 in January to 2,347 in December 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
The group’s year-over-year analysis also points to an upward trend. Specifically, there were 108 catalytic converter thefts per month on average in 2018, 282 average monthly thefts in 2019, and a whopping 1,203 average thefts per month in 2020.
In 2020, California ranked number one for catalytic converter thefts. Other states that made the top five list include Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Illinois.
NICB says the significant uptick in thefts is due in part to the pandemic, as the value of precious metals contained in the converters continues to rise. There is a clear connection between times of crisis, limited resources, and disruption of the supply chain that drives investors towards these precious metals, notes the organization.
For example, as of December 2020, rhodium was valued at $14,500 per ounce, palladium at $2,336 per ounce, and platinum at $1,061 per ounce. Typically, recyclers will pay $50 to $250 per catalytic converter.