Oklahoma City police warn of uptick in catalytic converter thefts


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s a crime that could happen in your own driveway.

A local mechanic says higher profile vehicles like SUVs and pickups are most susceptible to catalytic converter thefts that could leave you out thousands of dollars quickly.

“Especially if you’ve got a group of guys doing it, they can get several cars all at once in a matter of minutes,” said Brian Thompson, owner of Brian’s Automotive in Edmond.

Thompson knows about converter thefts all too well.

Photo goes with story
A catalytic converter.

Several years ago, there was an uptick in cases with thieves selling the value parts to scrap metal lots.

“Then they made a law to where scrap yards couldn’t take them unless they had ID and also a proper copy of the title of the vehicle, showing that it was their car it came off of,” said Thompson. 

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise since 2018.

More than 14,000 were reported stolen in 2020 alone.

Thompson isn’t sure if those are being sold on the black market, but the one thing he does know is the impact a theft can have on your wallet.

“It can range anywhere from $800 to $900 to $2,000, depending on the vehicle and how many converters that you have because some vehicles will have up to four catalytic converters on them,” he said. 

Photo goes with story
A catalytic converter allegedly being stolen.

If you don’t get your car repaired, it could lead to a major annoyance.

“It’s still drivable but it’s going to be extremely loud like a NASCAR with straight exhaust coming out of the engine,” said Thompson. 

Police say surveillance video is their best and usually only bet for catching those responsible.

“If there’s good video, that certainly helps us out. Anytime we can have another set of eyes on a suspect, where we can see it on video,” said MSgt. Gary Knight, with the Oklahoma City Police Department. 

But in many cases, that’s not an option.

“You could go into a grocery store or a mall or anything like that and if they’re sitting out in the parking lot just kind of watching, they’ll get under there and cut them off and go and never know it,” Thompson said. 

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