Catalytic Converters contain metals such as cerium, iron, manganese, nickel, platinum, palladium, rhodium whose price has risen sharply with the disruption of mining in key source markets such as South Africa among other factors. Consequently, the supply-demand mismatch for these critical metals is deteriorating rapidly as car manufacturers compete to manufacture environmentally friendly vehicles.
In New York City, the NYPD statistics show that catalytic converter theft cases havee surged by a jaw-dropping 361% year-on-year as at July 2021. The statistics are even more worrying after analyzing the week-on-week data showing an upward trajectory of 441% for the week ending on 28th July 2021.
According to Thomas Burke, the NYPD Auto Crime Unit Detective, rhodium is the primary target as an ounce of the now precious metal fetches $22,000/= in the local market. Further, the brazen thieves targeting cars parked on streets, public parking yards, or even nursing homes make at least $400 per converter which is a strong incentive to steal given that the crime execution takes at least two minutes to accomplish.
To curb this menace which is costing New Yorkers an average of $2,000 to get a replacement, the NYPD has devised elaborate strategies that will be tested in due course.
- Tracking the catalytic converters
Although the U.S. Clean Air Act prohibits the resale of used catalytic converters, it is impractical to enforce the law with absolute success in the sprawling New York City. To thwart the wave of this vice, the NYPD, according to Thomas Burke has enhanced the capacity of the Fleet Service Division in tracking the devices.
The team is advocating for the labeling of catalytic convertors with stickers and serial numbers to track the VINs of the vehicles that have been fitted. To achieve this, the division is building a public database with all the vital information to make the project a success. The goal is to identify the real owners of the vandalized vehicles, identify the culprits, and possibly crack the crime syndicate that is increasingly evolving.
- Parking in a secure location
The NYPD is also cautioning motorists against parking in dimly lit and less accessed streets as this predisposes their automobiles to vandalism. Car owners are hence advised to park in well-lit streets if they are unable to access secure garages.
- Controlling the sale of catalytic convertors
The NYPD also requires scarp part dealers to verify the ID photos of the sellers and to keep the records for at least five years. This strategy is designed to enable the law enforcers to trace the catalytic convertors to individuals who plucked them out from other people’s vehicles and build watertight evidence for prosecution.
- Installation of a muffler protector
The police circular also advises car owners to visit their local muffler shop for the catalytic convertor to be reinforced and secured to the car frame with steel to make it difficult for anyone to cut off the device.
In the meantime, the NYPD is encouraging all New Yorkers to be vigilant of their environment and call the police in suspicious circumstances.