(NEXSTAR) — Recent years have seen an increase of more than 1,000% in catalytic converter theft, and if you own a certain type of vehicle in the Midwest, you may be more at risk than other drivers.
Which vehicles are most likely to be targeted in the Midwest, though? Carfax found service records from more than 60,000 dealerships for catalytic converter replacements. Using that data, the company learned which vehicles were targeted the most in each region.
Here are the cars most likely to have their catalytic converters stolen in the Midwest:
- 1985-2021 Ford F-Series
- 2007-17 Jeep Patriot
- 2011-17 Chrysler 200
- 2005-21 Chevrolet Equinox
- 2008-14 Dodge Avenger
- 1990-2022 Ford Econoline
- 1997-2020 Honda CR-V
- 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado
- 1987-2019 Toyota Camry
- 1989-2020 Honda Accord
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a non-profit trade association that tracks crimes reported to insurance companies, catalytic converters thefts saw an increase of about 1,215% from 2019.
The main reason for that increase is the skyrocketing cost of precious metals in catalytic converters, which makes the parts more valuable to thieves. Those metals are platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), vehicles that sit higher off the ground, or high-clearance vehicles, are common targets as they allow thieves easier access to converters. These types of vehicles include trucks, SUVs and vans, although buses and delivery vehicles are also at risk.
Hybrids, and Toyota Priuses in particular, are also a “major target” as their converters tend to be less worn than those of traditional automobiles, the NICB said. AAA also reported that Priuses carry more “hefty amounts” of precious metals than many other models.
AAA noted, however, that these types of theft are crimes of opportunity, above all else. It only takes minutes for a skilled criminal to remove a converter, and it’s not unheard of for thieves to target an unguarded bus or truck depot and abscond with an entire lot’s worth in just one night.
If a vehicle has its catalytic converter stolen, owners will know when they hear a loud noise coming from the exhaust system of the vehicle. This can be a rude awakening for drivers, especially if they don’t have insurance that covers the theft.
“If you don’t have full coverage, or you can’t get coverage, you’re going to pay out of pocket to replace (the converter),” said Christopher McDonold, the executive director for the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council.
McDonold provided tips for drivers trying to prevent catalytic converter theft:
- Park in well-lit areas
- Park in garages instead of driveways or streets
- Always be aware of the area around where your vehicle is parked
The NICB said you can also install a catalytic converter anti-theft device. Another good idea is to install motion sensors in driveways if you must park there.
You can also have a mechanic etch the VIN of your vehicle on the converter and spray it with high-heat paint that sticks out. Using this method, law enforcement can track the converters, which in turn can help them catch thieves.