You Won’t Believe How Much Car Thefts Have Increased

Some are blaming the alarming increase in car thefts on COVID-19. But experts have a hard time saying why other than thefts have been consistently lower over the past several years. Over 873,080 cars were stolen in 2020 for an increase of almost 10 percent. 

Thieves are after specific vehicles and specific car parts

Car thief
Car thief | Nicolas Armer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Some states are being affected worse than others. Mostly, California, Florida, and Texas are seeing the highest increase. And in those states, the targets are mostly Chevy and Ford pickups, and Honda sedans. But there is another problem affecting many victims.

Catalytic converter theft has significantly risen. Thieves are after them to sell to metal recyclers for their rare metals. They’re fairly easy to steal and are small enough to hide, so they make handy items to sell to recyclers but also to shady body and repair shops. 

Over 1,200 catalytic converters are stolen every day

Catalytic converter under car
The stolen converter will be sold to a recycler who will salvage the platinum from it | James L. Amos/Corbis via Getty Images

Statistics say over 1,200 catalytic converters are stolen every day but it is suspected the number is far higher. It was estimated that just under 300 a month were stolen in 2019. Thieves get between $50 to $250 each for used converters on average.

Some say the lockdowns and restrictions for COVID-19 are partly the cause for the increase. So prices have steadily risen while demand has increased, too. Among the thieves’ favorite targets is the Toyota Prius because it has two catalytic converters. 

Thieves like pickup trucks

catalytic converters
Catalytic converters | Reuter Raymond/Sygma via Getty Images

RELATED: Why Are Thieves Stealing Catalytic Converters In My Town?

And because they’re hybrids their converters tend to be in better overall shape. But thieves like pickups, too, because their higher suspension makes them easier to slide under. And there are more pickups out there than just about anything else. 

One of the best deterrents, if you can’t park in a garage, is to park in a well-lit secure place. The advantage that thieves have is that they are hard to detect being under a car or truck. But detaching a converter does create noise, but sometimes it is hard to determine where it is coming from.

Check with your insurance company to see just how you are covered

Car thief with police
A car thief suspect drops to his knees as Long Beach Police officers order him and two other occupants out of the vehicle | Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

You might want to check with your insurance company to see just how you are covered in case a catalytic converter is stolen from you. If your policy has comprehensive coverage then your insurance will probably pay for or replace your converter as well as damage thieves have made. This will be done based on your coverage limits and of course minus your deductible. 

Finally, make sure you call the police as well as your insurance provider. Stepped-up patrols and a general awareness by the police will help to keep thefts down in your area.