Across the country and here in our area, thieves are stealing catalytic converters.
WRAL has reported on catalytic converter thefts for years, but new data shows North Carolina is in the top five states for the number of thefts.
Several recent thefts happened in the parking deck of RDU international airport.
Jane Simmons of Durham learned she was a victim when she returned from a weekend trip and started her Toyota Prius. “Immediately it’s making a very strange, loud noise. Actually I thought like a really loud motorcycle was parked right beside me.”
That loud noise is a tell tale sign of a catalytic converter theft.
“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that that happened,” Simmons said.
The catalytic converter is part of the exhaust system. Criminals get underneath the car to saw it off. Experts say it takes only minutes.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau says thefts skyrocketed in the last year — because of the metal inside..
One example, rhodium.
The price has has skyrocketed over the last 5 years.
Last month, it hit almost $30,000 an ounce.
That’s way more than gold– currently at about $1,900 an ounce.
So how can owners of cars with catalytic converters protect themselves?
One option, an anti theft device.
Some bolt around your catalytic converter, others use layers of steel cable.
While thieves could still cut through them eventually, the added time it takes may encourage them to move on.
Repairs are expensive.
Simmons paid $16-hundred dollars, but replacement converters can cost thousands.
When she reported the theft to RDU International Police, Simmons says the detective said her Prius is one of three that was targeted by thieves that weekend and that the parking deck does not have security cameras that might help track the thieves.