Catalytic converter thefts in the Heartland

Catalytic converters continue to be a high value target for thieves. Recent numbers show thefts jumped a whopping 540% in just the last couple years
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 5:24 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2023 at 6:14 PM CST
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Catalytic converters continue to be a high value target for thieves.

In fact, recent numbers show thefts of the part jumped a whopping 540 percent in just the last couple years.

Just this week, we’ve reported on two catalytic converter theft investigations in southeast Missouri. The latest one happened in Scott County on Tuesday.

Authorities say someone stole 11 of them from trucks at a business in Sikeston.

On Monday, officers in St. Francois County arrested a man after reports of catalytic converter thefts in the Park Hills area.

In Cape Girardeau, police say they started seeing catalytic converter thefts about three years ago.

It doesn’t take long for thieves to target your vehicle.

“Shimmy underneath a vehicle, five minutes, you got it,” Stephen Worley said. He is the owner/operator of Budget Auto Repair in Cape Girardeau.

Beneath a lifted truck, he demonstrated how easily a thief can steal your converter.

“What they’d have to do is cut on each side here, reach up here and cut this and cut it here,” Worley said.

If they get it off, that’s all they need.

“There you go five hundred bucks to a thousand in your pocket,” Worley said. “And if you get two of them, there’s a thousand to fifteen hundred.”

“There’s some expensive metals that make up the converters themselves,” Patrolman Bobby Newton with the Cape Girardeau Police Department said.

Newton said thieves are taking them to metal recyclers to get that cash.

“So far this year we’ve had approximately seven catalytic converters stolen, compared to, for example in 2021, we had 80 reports,” Newton said.

An employee at Cape Metal Recyclers said they take down a seller’s state ID information to cut down on stolen items and will provide that information to law enforcement if necessary.

So, how do you know if someone’s stolen that valuable piece of your car’s exhaust system?

“All the sudden you start it and you got a drag racing car,” Worley said. “Loud as at the track.”

Officer Newton said parking in a well-lit area can help prevent these thefts. He also offers another suggestion.

“Spray paint your converter if you want, mark it in some way whether it be spray paint, inscribe your vin number on there,” Newton said. “If we can identify it in some form or fashion, then we can hopefully make a case on that.”

If you fall victim to this crime and have to replace the catalytic converter on your vehicle, get ready for a hefty bill. Insurance industry analysts say they can run between $1,500 and $5,000.