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Here's why thieves like to steal catalytic converters out of cars

Automobile experts say thieves are after a precious metal that has increased in demand

ATLANTA — Cities across America are seeing a record number of catalytic converter thefts as car owners look for ways to avoid becoming victims.

You would think they were filled with diamond rings or bricks of gold instead of grime from car exhaust. Catalytic converters are a part of your car’s emissions system and thieves love them.

“I’ve been around cars my whole life,” Jim Casal, a mechanic with AAA, said. “Catalytic converter theft has been around since I can remember.”

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, thefts have been high all year. From the Duluth Police Department’s recent bust to the thefts of catalytic converters from vans belonging to the Boys and Girls Club in Indianapolis, many have fallen victim.

RELATED: Thefts of catalytic converters spike amid pandemic

Casal says thieves are after one particular precious metal used to make catalytic converters.

“Catalytic converters have platinum in them,” he added. “It’s a very expensive metal and catalytic converters are packed with it. There’s a honeycomb inside made of platinum.”

Rarer than gold, the value of platinum hit a six year high in February. According to the World Platinum Investment Council, the demand for platinum is growing.

Catalytic converters are easy to access.

“Cut it off with your basic pipe cutter,” Casal said. “You don’t have to get in the car.”

Once thieves have them, there is the issue of selling them. Legally, you have to have a license to buy or sell. Casal said legit scrap metal places won’t touch the converters.

“A lot of places won’t buy them because those are the places that law enforcement is going to first,” he pointed out.

There are locks to help steer thieves away from your exhaust system and keep you from the exhausting issues that come with replacing your stolen catalytic converter.

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