Ridgewood cops shine spotlight on the recent rise of catalytic converter thefts

catalytic converter
Catalytic converter thefts are rising in Queens and across the city due to the high cost of precious metals they contain. (Photo courtesy of 104th Precinct)

Officers from the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood responded to a recent 911 call regarding suspicious individuals under vehicles, possibly removing catalytic converters.

Upon their arrival at the location, officers from the Public Safety Team took swift action leading to the arrest of the perpetrators without incident and the recovery of tools used to remove the catalytic converters.

Theft of the automotive part rose an astonishing 325% nationwide between 2019 and 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The NYPD reports that catalytic converter thefts have risen from 211 to 802 over that same period, and jumped to 3,705 in 2021.

Catalytic converters turn harmful emissions, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, given off by the exhaust system into less harmful gases or water vapor. They are necessary for vehicles to pass safety and emissions inspections in many states and replacing stolen converters can cost as much as $1,500 to $3,000.

Each catalytic converter is worth more than $300 on the black market because they contain platinum, palladium and rhodium, expensive precious metals according to Consumer Reports. The current price for an ounce of rhodium costs in excess of $20,000.

Thieves can steal a catalytic converter in a minute or two, and Councilman Robert Holden is well aware of the increase in thefts in his district.

“The criminals doing this, even when they are caught, are not going to jail,” Holden said. “It’s always good to have more police on the street and there is an NYPD program that etches a serial number on your converter, so it can be identified if stolen. But the bottom line is that Albany’s bail reform means that there are no consequences and that needs to change.”

In the meantime, experts suggest having your catalytic converter welded to the frame of your vehicle, installing a catalytic converter anti-theft device, installing video surveillance outside your home and parking your vehicle in busy, well-lit areas.