Thefts of catalytic converters off vehicles continue to be a problem for law enforcement in north Iowa.
The Charles City Police Department says they received a report just after 8 a.m. Friday of a theft of a catalytic converter from a vehicle while it was parked overnight in the 1300 block of South Grand Avenue. The stolen part is valued at about $1,500. Charles City Police are also alerting residents about multiple recent car burglaries.
In a Facebook post last week, the Mason City Police Department said, “Catalytic Converter theft is an ongoing problem in our region. Cordless power tools are commonly used in these cases and may be left behind by criminals. If you see or hear suspicious activity around parked vehicles, please call it in.”
Earlier this year, Floyd County Sheriff’s Office Investigator and Firearms Instructor Deputy Chad Weber told KCHA/KCZE that the uptick in the criminal activity comes from the shortage of precious metals inside of the converters, stemming mostly from the pandemic. He says while catalytic converters only contain a small amount of the metal, Rhodium, it has become highly valuable.
According to MoneyMetals.com, the price of Rhodium currently is just over $11,000 per ounce, compared to the average price in previous years of around $1,100 per ounce. The price was as high as $22,000-$25,000 per ounce at mid-summer.
Weber advises vehicle owners to park their vehicles in a garage, secure area, or well-lit location to help prevent the thefts, while some auto parts companies are now offering shields or cages to prevent the thefts. He adds that mechanics have been welding rebar or painting converters to help identify them if they are brought to a scrap yard. The re-bar will dull the blades and make the process of stealing the converter take longer.