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Catalytic Converter Thefts Surge in New York City

In the five boroughs of New York City and upstate New York, cases of brazen theft cases of catalytic converters have been rising at an alarming rate. This is putting pressure on the state, the police department, and the communities being affected as there is an urgency to strategize options of thwarting the crime wave.

In New York City, 215 catalytic converters were reported stolen in the fast half of 2021. Compared to 32 cases in 2020, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles forecasts that the situation will only get worse. As the price of rhodium, platinum, and palladium per ounce skyrockets and surpasses the value of traditional commodities such as gold and silver, it is deemed more profitable to own these rare metals than commodities such as gold. Hence, more people are incentivized to steal catalytic converters.

How to know to detect a missing catalytic converter

The role of a catalytic converter is to act as a muffler and most importantly convert the harmful carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons into water and carbon monoxides which can then be emitted into the environment. 

In the absence of the catalytic converter, when the engine is started, the exhaust system releases a roaring sound which is the primary sign that the critical auto part is missing. 

High-risk models in New York City

Reports show that hybrid vehicles are more susceptible to theft of catalytic convertors as they contain improved converters that guarantee efficiency. Honda models and Toyota makes such as the Prius are prone to burglary as they have advanced catalytic converters with high concentrations of rare models. Rather than avoid these vehicles, New Yorkers can mitigate against the risk of burglary by installing wire cages, engraving their VIN or vehicle registration numbers on the casing of the converters, among other preventative measures. 

The Cost of Catalytic Converters burglary

While the value of stolen catalytic converters usually ranges from $20 to $150 according to the NYPD, the price can change depending on the haggling skills of the seller and some scrap metal dealers are renowned for buying the parts at hundreds of dollars.

On the other hand, the cost to the car owners is immense financially as some car models such as the Toyota Sequoia have double converters which can cost thousands of dollars to replace. In most cases, garages charge hundreds of dollars for replacement which is unaffordable for most New Yorkers grappling with inflation. 

Furthermore, lost time, additional expenses of alternative transportation, and the trauma of being a victim can cause stress. 

Providing information to the police

William J. Bratton, the New York Police Commissioner is urging members of all communities to be proactive in the prevention of theft of catalytic converters. He is requesting everyone to raise awareness about the vice and to call the police if there is any suspicious activity going on in the neighborhood. As a nascent crime, the policy is yet to fully understand how to respond to emergencies and resolve the growing cases and the current viable option is a coordinated effort between law enforcers and communities.

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