It may surprise you but your catalytic converter may be worth its weight in literal gold.

It's no secret that catalytic converters have been a staple of car thieves for years. The important part is chock full of valuable metals and materials that can fetch a price at scrapyards. Unfortunately, catalytic converters and their emission components are a pain on the wallet to replace. But nowadays you might want to keep a closer eye on your vehicle than usual.

According to reports from the New York Times, catalytic converter thefts are on the rise nationwide. Theft rates have increased 800% in St. Louis, MO, while reports in Lexington, SC, and Wichita, KS have tripled.

The reason?

Hard economic times as well as a sudden spike in demand for valuable precious metals. It may surprise you but your catalytic converter may be worth its weight in literal gold.

The report points squarely at palladium and rhodium, two metals found in converters. Palladium, once worth $500 an ounce five years ago is now worth $2,875 per ounce in 2020. Rhodium on the other hand, originally worth $640 per ounce now commands a jaw-dropping price of $21,900 per ounce!

To be exact, that is actually 12 times the price of gold!

The Toyota Prius is a prime target for catalytic converter thieves.

With harder economic times rocking the country it is no surprise that some folks have resorted to stealing. Car manufacturers are also feeling the squeeze as the cost of these metals skyrocket. Automakers are predicted to spend an extra $40 billion on metals for catalytic converters as the costs increase.

Certain cars are especially targeted for their converters, namely the Toyota Prius and other hybrids like it. The reason is due to the hybrids' low emissions which means the catalytic converter does not need to work as hard and will therefore be in greater shape than gasoline vehicles.

Thieves won't get as big of a payday as they might think though. Worn materials from a converter may only fetch about $50-$350 depending on the condition. These crooks are causing thousands in damages for a meager payoff.

Unfortunately, there is little to prevent catalytic converter theft. One must simply jack up the vehicle, saw off the component, and hope to not be caught in the act. The best form of protection though maybe to keep your vehicle in a garage or a well-lit or security surveyed area.

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