The skyrocketing price of Platinum Group Metals has spurred an increase in catalytic converter thefts nationally and locally, so the Las Cruces Police Department is encouraging vehicle owners to take the necessary precautions to help prevent such crimes.
For the first two months of 2021, Las Cruces police recorded nine cases of catalytic converter thefts. For the same two-month period in 2020, only three such cases were recorded. Catalytic converter theft cases since February 2021 have yet to be tabulated.
The Las Cruces Police Department recommends following these tips to help prevent the theft of catalytic converters:
- Park in a garage or well-lit area.
- Ensure the VIN – Vehicle Identification Number – is engraved onto your catalytic converter.
- Install a catalytic converter shield or protection device that is approved for your vehicle make and model.
- Install and utilize a vehicle alarm system that detects vibration.
- Avoid leaving vehicle unattended in public places for long periods of time.
- Call police immediately at (575) 526-0795 to report suspicious activities such as someone lying underneath a vehicle that’s parked on a roadway or in a parking lot.
The catalytic converter, part of the vehicle’s exhaust system, helps filter and reduce the vehicle’s emissions. Catalytic converters contain PGMs – platinum, palladium and rhodium – because those metals are resistant to high temperature corrosion and oxidation. PGMs are expensive and their value has increased over the last year. The increased value of PGMs makes thefts of catalytic converters a lucrative, albeit illegal, endeavor.
Replacement of a catalytic converter is costly for the vehicle owner with prices ranging up to $2,000 for the converter, alone, plus labor at a dealership or auto repair shop. Vehicles that have a high ground clearance are more likely to be the target of a catalytic converter theft.
Those suspected of stealing a catalytic converter could be charged with felony counts of criminal damage to property and larceny.