Unless you've been under a rock, you've probably heard about the recent uptick in catalytic converter theft.

These precious metal-filled devices are a hot commodity on the black market these days. And unfortunately, that means your car or truck might be at risk.

Take, for example, this report from KLFY News 10 on what happened down in Abbeville, LA. Workers parked their vehicles at Chris Crusta Memorial Airport before heading offshore for two weeks or more. When they came back, they found out their catalytic converters had been stolen.

Abbeville Police Chief Mike Hardy told News 10 it's tough to catch the culprits, especially since they usually strike when nobody's around.

Some of these guys go offshore for two weeks at a time, some for even longer. We have to really just catch them in the act over there to be able to do something about it. It takes everybody to solve crime nowadays. It’s not just a police department problem. It’s not just a people problem. It’s everybody’s problem.

Now, you might be wondering, "What's the big deal with these catalytic converters? It's just a hunk of metal, right?" Well, not exactly. Catalytic converters are essential to your vehicle's exhaust system. They help to reduce harmful emissions that could damage the environment. Without them, you'd be pumping all kinds of nasty stuff into the air.

And unfortunately, these devices are super valuable to thieves. They contain metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium that can snag a pretty penny on the black market. In fact, some estimates put the value of a single catalytic converter at $500 or more. Chief Hardy said, depending on the vehicle, the value can be much higher which only puts more people (and more vehicles) at risk.

These converters have rare materials like titanium, and all kinds of rare minerals in them, so they’re very expensive. I imagine they range from $1,000 to $3,000 apiece. I’m not sure of the exact value because different vehicles will have different price converters on them. Thieves can slide under, cut the catalytic converter, and be out in less than a minute. So that’s quick money.

So, if your catalytic converter gets stolen, what can you expect? For starters, it's gonna be pricey to replace. Plus, you'll have to find the time to get your vehicle fixed up. You might even have to take some time off work or find another way to get around. And if your car was parked in a public place when the theft happened, there's a good chance it got damaged in the process.

That's the headache that these offshore workers are dealing with now which is undoubtedly worse after working for weeks straight and looking forward to spending their limited free time with family or doing literally anything else besides dealing with this situation.

But don't worry, there are things you can do to protect yourself. For one, try parking in well-lit areas that have security cameras. Thieves are less likely to go after cars in these kinds of spots because they're more likely to get caught. You could also invest in a catalytic converter lock or shield. These make it harder for thieves to get at your catalytic converter, which might just be enough to deter them.

Of course, there's no guarantee that these measures will work. But at least you'll be taking some steps to protect yourself. And if the worst does happen, make sure you report the theft to the police. They're working hard to catch these thieves, and Hardy tells News 10 that every bit of information helps.

Someone may come across several catalytic converters in a pickup truck, in a car, the trunk of a car. If they see someone with multiple catalytic converters, it’s probably stolen catalytic converters because there’s a market for them. People will pay high dollars for them, but it’s also monitored. I mean, anything that these salvage yards buy it’s supposed to be monitored and logged and I’m not sure that they are doing that.

Catalytic converter theft is clearly still a real problem, but with a little bit of caution and some extra protection, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

See the full story here via News 10 and stay safe out there.

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