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Officials urge car owners in Michigan to protect catalytic converters from rising theft risk

Underside of vehicle missing its catalytic converter after a theft
Jim Osborne
A catalytic converter is being removed from an engine

Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in Michigan, according to the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

The agency is urging people to protect their cars from these threats.

Catalytic converters reduce harmful emissions from cars. They contain rare, costly metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium.

It can take only a few minutes for thieves to remove the devices from under a car, so the crime is hard to prevent.

Experts say any car can be targeted, but trends show hybrids are being more frequently targeted, along with SUVs, because their high ground clearance makes it easier to get to the catalytic converter.

Nationally, catalytic converter theft increased tenfold from 2019 to 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

State insurance regulators say people can add comprehensive coverage to their policies, install an anti-theft device, park in garages or other places where it's harder for thieves to gain ready access to the catalytic converter, and/or install motion sensor security lights.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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