Protecting your car from catalytic converter thieves

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
An auto mechanic working underneath a car, where its catalytic converter is located. Credit: WINK News

The cost of car parts and their precious metals is high right now, and that means a specific part of your car could be in danger from thieves. A Fort Myers automotive expert has advice on how to protect it.

Criminals are targeting catalytic converts, stealing and selling them to make a lot of money. Catalytic converters are part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, and with the right tools, they can be removed in under three minutes.

WINK News spoke with Alan Smith, the general manager at Terry Wynter Auto Service Center, located at 3811 Fowler St. in Fort Myers. He says criminals want the precious metals inside the converters because they can be worth up to $400. SUVs and trucks are some of the easiest cars to steal from because they are higher up from the ground, so thieves can get right under.

“There’s this precious metal inside the converters that they can sell for scrap that contains palladium, platinum and rhodium,” Smith said. “It’s very high per ounce, you don’t get an ounce out of a converter, but it’s valuable metal; some cars have more high precious metal content than others. But, generally, the thieves, [what they do] when they decide to steal a converter from a vehicle is they go underneath the car with easy access underneath. When it’s fairly low to the ground, they can’t slide under.”

Smith says his shop has security and a fenced-off area, stealing a converter is an easy process for a crook.

“They’re not hard at all,” Smith said. “Basically, they go underneath and they’ll go in with a battery-operated saw is all. It can cut metal; they go in and they slice the front side and rear side, where the converter shell is; it drops to the ground and they are in and out in probably three minutes.”

Smith suggests people park in a garage in a well-lit area and install cameras and motion-activated lighting to protect their cars.

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