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What would you do if you left your vehicle for repairs and it had the catalytic converter stolen? For a Hyundai owner in Orangeville, Ontario, that’s the unfortunate situation in which they found themselves. To make matters worse, the Hyundai dealer called the police on the vehicle owner’s daughter when she dared to complain!

How the catalytic converter theft happened

A Hyundai dealership, similar to the one where they refused to replace catalytic converter.
Hyundai dealership | Getty Images

According to Global News, this catalytic converter theft wasn’t the first to happen at Orangeville Hyundai. Another catalytic converter was stolen from a vehicle on the lot just a few months earlier. Despite that theft, the dealership hadn’t taken any steps to beef up the security. There were no security cameras and no fences or gates to keep intruders out.

Despite their failure to protect customers’ cars, co-owner Phil Richards was defiant when confronted by the latest victim of the dealership’s lack of security. He heard the Hyundai owner’s daughter, Jamie-Lee Higginson, complaining to another customer about the dealership’s refusal to replace the stolen catalytic converter. He was highly upset at the “threat” when she mentioned possibly getting a lawyer and called the police on her.

How Hyundai stepped up to help

After Global News reported on the theft and the aftermath, Hyundai Canada acknowledged the dealership’s failings. They then had the 2010 Hyundai Veracruz towed to a different dealership, where the catalytic converter and exhaust pipe were replaced. While that was going on, they provided a rental vehicle for a week. Before returning the repaired vehicle, they also had the interior and exterior detailed. To top it off, they even gave the owner a $500 gas card!

The second dealership, Performance Hyundai Brampton, discovered the problem that took the vehicle to Orangeville Hyundai in the first place wasn’t a new alternator as the owner had been told. The vehicle simply needed a replacement battery. Maybe the dealership owners should heed Detroit-area lawyer Steve Lehto’s advice when discussing a consumer’s rights. 

He said, “Do they not realize how bad this makes them look? You fix it at cost and you’d save yourself a bunch of embarrassment because this is absurd. But it’s why it made the news, Global News.”

Hyundai Canada also offered a profuse and unreserved apology to the owner, Diane Reid, and her daughter Ms. Higginson. Also, when the gleaming and newly-repaired Hyundai started smoking on the way home from the second dealership, Hyundai Canada stepped in again. They reaffirmed their intention to have the vehicle repaired so that Ms. Reid could finally enjoy her vehicle again—and make good use of that generous $500 gas card.

Why thieves target catalytic converters

These rather inconspicuous parts of the exhaust system may not look like much, but they contain rare precious metals. Harvesting those valuable metals is why catalytic converter theft has skyrocketed.

Thieves generally receive a relatively paltry $50 to $500 for each catalytic converter they contribute to the burgeoning black market. Unfortunately, a replacement can cost the car owner considerably more. It will be up to $3,500—if the thief was careful not to break anything else during the theft. 

Prices for the platinum, palladium, and rhodium found inside a catalytic converter are climbing rapidly. That means more catalytic converter thefts and the laws designed to stop them. Until those laws prove effective, you can take steps to prevent thieves from targeting your catalytic converter. 

If you can’t park your ride in the garage overnight, at least etch your vehicle’s VIN on the catalytic converter to make it less appealing to thieves and easier to trace if it is stolen.  

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What Your Catalytic Converter Does and Why You Should Replace It Now