ALABAMA (WHNT) — Catalytic converter thefts have been a longstanding problem for many across the country since the start of the pandemic as thieves took advantage of unsuspecting car owners more than ever.

In a recent study that looked at state-by-state data from 2019 to 2022, catalytic converter theft soared in Alabama, with an increase of 1754.17% over those three years.

The study also suggests that these types of thefts quadrupled in the United States throughout 2021, with an estimated 353% hike from all reported thefts in 2020. The numbers for 2023 are already up by 20%, according to the study.

What is a catalytic converter? It’s used to convert harmful emissions like carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide into less harmful ones before being released into the air.

For the Yellowhammer state, it ranks at #50 for the number of catalytic converter thefts per 100,000 registered vehicles.

Here’s a breakdown:

Alabama Catalytic Theft Numbers
Percentage change thefts 2019 vs 20221754.17%
2019 thefts24
2020 thefts85
2021 thefts357
2022 thefts445
% Change Thefts YoY 2019 vs 2020254.17%
% Change Thefts YoY 2020 vs 2021320.00%
Percentage change thefts 2021 vs 202224.65%
Thefts per 100k Automobiles 202222
Rank Thefts per 100k Automobiles 202250
Rank Total thefts28
Note that the number of actual thefts estimated is based on insured thefts and the number is likely much higher but the percentage increase is a clear indicator 

Why are they even valuable to thieves? Because of the precious metal called palladium, which is used inside catalytic converters, and is more valuable than gold. Not only that, but the price has skyrocketed over the last few years, with one ounce worth roughly $1,500.

If you’re looking for ways to protect your catalytic converter, experts suggest these helpful tips:

  • Etch your VIN or license plate number or install an anti-theft device
  • Park in a garage, near entrances or well-lit areas and install a car alarm
  • Perhaps consider installing a motion sensor light
  • Try to park in a way that limits thief’s access under your car (close to a wall or other cars)
  • Purchase a converter lock and have it installed by a professional

Because the most common place thing thieves will do to try to turn your property into cash, some states have started making legal changes, including requiring proof of ownership and launching anti-theft programs.

While all 50 states have unanimously passed laws to help prevent converter thefts, officials reiterate that the best protection is self-diligence.