For the first time since 2019, catalytic converter thefts are declining. Thefts of the auto part, which converts exhaust into less harmful gasses, are down nearly 37% in the first half of 2023, according to new data released by State Farm, the largest U.S. car insurer by market share.
Catalytic converter thefts skyrocketed 326% during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported. Claims peaked in 2022, when State Farm received 45,000 catalytic converter theft claims.
Why thieves steal catalytic converters
Catalytic converters contain valuable platinum, palladium, and rhodium. Thieves can remove them in minutes with readily available tools. The increase in catalytic converter thefts is related to the rising value of precious metals, supply chain disruptions, and the economic effects of the pandemic.
Thieves can net anywhere from $25 to $300 for a standard catalytic converter or up to $1,400 if the part comes from a hybrid vehicle, CARFAX reported. Replacing a catalytic converter costs between $2,000 and $3,000.
Vehicle thefts also surged during pandemic lockdowns, increasing 128% between 2019 and 2022, according to FBI data. Kia and Hyundai cars were especially vulnerable due to a viral TikTok challenge.
Car thefts are still increasing in 2023, according to NICB. But the trend is reversing for catalytic converters.
Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2023, State Farm processed 14,500 claims for catalytic converter thefts, down from 23,000 in the first half of 2022. However, claims are only getting more expensive.
Catalytic converter claims cost $1K more than in 2019
The cost of catalytic converter claims increased 53% in the last five years, according to State Farm. In 2019, the insurer paid an average of $1,900 for a catalytic converter claim. Now, these claims cost an average of $2,900.
The higher claims cost is likely the result of rising prices for auto parts and repairs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index for motor vehicle parts and equipment increased by 25% between January 2019 and June 2023. Motor vehicle maintenance and repair costs went up by nearly 32% over the same period.
States with the most catalytic converter thefts
California had the most catalytic converter thefts in the first half of 2023, with more than 5,400 claims and $17.8 million paid, according to State Farm. Texas had the second-highest number of thefts, with 1,450 claims — 73% fewer than California. The top two states are also the most populous in the country.
Here’s how the 10 states with the most catalytic converter thefts stack up in 2023:
While catalytic converter thefts are declining in 2023, drivers shouldn’t let their guard down. Parking in well-lit areas or a garage, installing security cameras and an alarm system, and engraving your VIN on your car’s catalytic converter can reduce the risk of auto part theft.
Drivers can also ensure they have financial protection with the right insurance coverage. Comprehensive car insurance, typically included in a full-coverage policy, reimburses policyholders for theft claims.
Unfortunately, drivers shouldn’t expect the decline in theft to affect their premiums. Car insurance costs have increased across the country in 2023, largely driven by the rising costs of parts, labor, and new vehicles. Auto insurance premiums have risen at least 17% this year, according to Insurify data. Currently, the national average costs are $206 for full-coverage car insurance and $103 for liability-only policies.
This article originally appeared on Insurify and was syndicated by MediaFeed.
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