WASHINGTON, D.C. February 21, 2011 – When you hear the words ‘catalytic converter’ you may not be thinking about precious metals and seeing dollar signs, but over the past few years, stolen catalytic converters have become increasingly popular with thieves. Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and trucks (especially ones that sit higher off the ground) are particularly easy targets for this form of theft.
Thieves use cordless saws and can cut off the catalytic converter within seconds. The next stop is a recycling center where they can turn them in for an average of $200 each. Police report that most thefts are drug-related. Containing small amounts of platinum, palladium and rhodium, these metals have lucrative street value because they’re used as a filtering agent in methamphetamine labs.
"The difficulty with this kind of theft is that it takes only a few seconds to commit" said Steve Rutzebeck, director of GEICO’s special investigations unit. "This type of theft is becoming increasingly more frequent, but there are a few simple tips you can follow to help minimize your chances of being a victim."
Follow these simple tips to help prevent your vehicle from being a target:
- Park in busy, well-lit areas; thieves prefer to work in the dark where passersby may not notice them.
- Park so your vehicle is observable to passing traffic.
- In malls, shopping centers or business parking lots, park as close as you can to main entrances.
- If leaving your vehicle in an industrial area, ensure the vehicle is secured in a fenced in or guarded lot.
How do you know if your car’s catalytic converter has been stolen? If you start the car and hear an especially loud rumbling (like a jet engine), there’s a good chance that yours was stolen.
"The best thing consumers can do to prevent this type of theft is to be aware," said Rutzebeck. "Knowing your surroundings and taking a few precautions is the first step towards preventing a loss like this."
GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the third-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States. GEICO provides millions of auto insurance quotes to U.S. drivers annually. The company is pleased to serve more than 12 million private passenger customers and insures more than 18 million vehicles (auto & cycle).
GEICO's online service center helps policyholders take care of policy sales, policy changes, claims reporting and to print insurance ID cards.
GEICO also provides insurance quotes on motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), travel trailers and motorhomes (RVs). Coverage for boats, life, homes and apartments is written by non-affiliated insurance companies and is secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Commercial auto insurance and personal umbrella protection are also available.
For more information, go to www.geico.com.