MINNEAPOLIS — Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise nationwide, including several neighborhoods around the Twin Cities.
“Starting about January of 2020, Minneapolis realized there was a sharp uptick in thefts of catalytic converters,” said Minneapolis Police Department Spokesman John Elder.
Elder says they’ve seen a significant increase in thieves targeting cars and SUVs.
The converter is part of an exhaust system that contains platinum, rhodium and other precious metals. According to insurance companies, the converter can be sold to scrap yards for up to $200, depending on the market value.
“As metal prices increased, the thefts went up quite a bit,” Elder said. “Overall in 2020. we saw a 456 % increase over 2019.”
But it’s not just happening in Minneapolis. A spokesman with the St. Paul Police Department says that preliminary reports show a 208 % increase in catalytic converter thefts in the first month of 2021 compared to the first month of 2020.
The Maplewood Police Dept. also posted online warning people of an increase in catalytic converter thefts.
St. Paul resident, Kardia Suttles, says her catalytic converter was stolen from her car twice in just a few weeks. “My husband has to check on the car throughout the night, so invest in alarms or cameras,” she said.
Elder says thieves are even using tow trucks to steal converters - most recently targeting 8 vehicles in one night. “As of late, we have seen the implementation of tow trucks being used to pick up cars, quickly take them down a couple of blocks, and cut off catalytic converters and drop them off there,” he says.
Thieves usually sell the converter to scrap yards or remove the precious metals to sell to a dealer. Experts say Hondas and Toyota Priuses are most often targeted.