STREETSBORO, Ohio — No cars seem safe from catalytic converter thefts after Streetsboro city vehicles parked outside City Hall became the latest targets as criminals turn the car parts into cash.
“It shows we’re not immune to crime,” Mayor Glenn Broska said. “I don’t think there is a line [thieves won’t cross]. I think it’s a target of opportunity.”
Broska told News 5 thieves took the catalytic converters from three of the city’s SUVs sometime overnight on Veterans Day.
The city’s temporary offices don’t have security cameras, but the mayor said they’re looking into possibly getting some while they work to get the cars repaired.
“I would much rather use that funding for something we can do to help improve the city,” Broska said. “But now we need to come up with $4,000-5,000 in the long run that we could’ve used to better the city.”
Catalytic converters are part of your car’s exhaust system, working as an anti-pollution device. Without them, your car makes a loud sound.
In addition to the city’s three SUVs, Broska said the city’s parks department also had several catalytic converters stolen from their cars.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, catalytic converter thefts have tripled between the start of the pandemic and the end of 2020.
The average cost of a catalytic converter for your car is upwards of $2,200.
Their value comes from the rare and precious metals inside such as platinum and rhodium.
New Age Metals details how rhodium is considered the rarest and most valuable precious metal in the world, currently trading at more than $1,100 per ounce, making it five times more valuable than gold.
Rhodium is primarily used in catalytic converters, but also used in the chemical industry as a protective coating on jewelry, and as a glass-strengthening alloy.
With catalytic converter thefts on the rise, lawmakers are taking notice.
State Representative Bob Young, whose district extends throughout southern Summit County, dealt with the problem himself, having 10 catalytic converters stolen from his Akron-based auction center.
“It's a tsunami of crime right now as far as these catalytic converters,” Young said.
In September, Young introduced House Bill 408 in an effort to cut down on these kinds of thefts. Under current Ohio law, only one catalytic converter per person per day can be sold to a scrap metal dealer. However, there’s no penalty against buying them or a reliable way to determine if they are stolen.
Under his proposal, sellers need to prove they own the catalytic converter to sell it, either by proving they replaced it at a mechanic or bringing the car and title it comes from to the scrap yard and then removing it.
“Basically what we’re doing is we’re going to classify catalytic converters as a special purchase article like a manhole cover,” Young added. “There’s some things you just are not allowed to sell to a scrap recycler. There’s some additional checks and balances that the scrap yard is going to have to do going forward to do their due diligence to make sure that they’re buying from a legitimate owner.”
If the bill becomes law, those caught selling catalytic converters illegally could face a fifth-degree felony.