CAT burglars: Catalytic converter theft on the rise in Treasure Valley, nationwide –

May 15, 2022 by No Comments

The converters, also known as CATs, can fetch anywhere between $50 and $1,400, according to police departments and insurance agencies across the country.

BOISE, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

Across the country, in big cities, small towns and rural expanses, thieves are targeting auto parts — with a prime focus on catalytic converters.

The catalytic devices convert pollutants from motor vehicle engines into less-toxic emissions. They are stolen and sold to metal recyclers or in some instances body shops in need of auto parts.

The converters, also known as CATs, can fetch anywhere between $50 and $1,400, according to police departments and insurance agencies across the country.

“They are targeting the metals in the mufflers which they can sell to a metal scrap dealer, for around $200 to $400. They work fast, and can steal the item in less than two minutes. We have not caught any of the suspects but suspect they are a traveling group,” said Lieutenant Mike Budreau with the Medford Police Department in southern Oregon.

The city of more than 85,000 people saw 37 catalytic converter thefts in 2021 and nine so far this year, Budreau said.

In the Treasure Valley, catalytic converter theft is also on the rise.

The Boise Police Department said that reported catalytic converter thefts rose from 12 in 2019 to 88 in 2021. This year, there have been 66 reports tallied by the BPD, according to department spokesperson Haley Williams.

The Nampa Police Department said there have been approximately 148 reported thefts from August 2021 to April 2022.

That figure also marks an increase in the city, according to Sgt. Mike Phillips. He added that there have likely been more because “Some victims don’t report, and other victims don’t know they have been the victim yet.”

A spokesperson from the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office estimated that “over the past two years, there have been about an 800% increase in catalytic converter thefts.”

On a national scale, it’s significant as well. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks crimes reported to insurance companies, the number of reported catalytic converter thefts raced from roughly 1,300 in 2018 to more than 52,000 in 2021.

Higher costs of metals because of inflation can help fetch more money from recyclers for thieves. Shortages of auto parts because of the impacts of the pandemic and supply chain problems could be driving some illegal demand for converters, law enforcement officials said. COVID-19 shutdowns in China, inflation in the U.S. and unpredictable demand have hampered automotive supply chains worldwide — including for parts.

Gone in 60 seconds

The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office said that thieves typically target vehicles with higher ground clearance, because converters are faster to pull and easier to reach.

“They also target businesses with a fleet of vehicles where they have access to multiple vehicles at a time,” Joe Decker, a spokesperson with the county, wrote in an email.

Patrick Orr, a spokesperson with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, said that bigger pickup trucks – which are easier to get under and may have larger converters – seem to be targeted the most. He added, however, that thieves have stolen catalytic converters from all kinds of cars and trucks.

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office, which has also reported an increase in CAT theft over the past year, said that thieves use reciprocating saws – power tools commonly known as sawzalls – when going under cars and trucks to cut through and get to the …….



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