ROANOKE, Va. — Police are seeing an increase in thefts of catalytic converters from automobiles across the nation and in parts of Virginia.
Roanoke County police officer Greg Benton told The Roanoke Times that he didn't think catalytic converter thefts have “ever been this prolific.”
Catalytic converters filter pollutants from car exhaust. They're made with valuable precious metals and sit on the underside of a vehicle. They can be removed in a matter of minutes with a machine-powered saw.
In July, insurance provider State Farm said that it had seen a three-fold jump in the number of catalytic converter claims filed over the past year.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau also said that the average monthly thefts across the nation had soared to 1,203 in 2020. There were 282 a month in 2019.
In Roanoke City, 182 converters were reported stolen by the end of October. In all of 2020, there were about 16 thefts.
In Roanoke County, Benton said thieves had made off with about 30 converters at once.
Car owners can take precautions by parking in well-lit, visible areas. Illegally removing a catalytic converter can be done quickly - but not quietly. The sawing tends to make a racket.