This story almost seems like a set up for a joke. “Ok, so there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who don’t know what a catalytic converter is, and those who can rip one right off your truck in thirty seconds or less.”
Of course, there are plenty of people in this world in various stages of catalytic converter expertise, most of whom would never think of stealing one, but the joke doesn’t work as well if you mention them.
Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of things stolen off of cars. Hood ornaments. Hub caps. License plates. Even the wheels can go for some good money in a pinch. So, while it’s not surprising that people would steal catalytic converters, it does seem like a random grab. In fact, as this video demonstrates, it requires two people with battery-operated saws to make it happen. So why bother?
In case you are one of the first kind of people in this world, let’s step back a second. The catalytic converter is the part of an automobile that channels the exhaust to remove pollutants. The piece itself is scrap metal. It’s what’s inside that fetches big bucks.
Catalytic converters remove pollutants by forcing the fumes through a honeycomb of channels. In each channel is a collection of precious metals, such as platinum, rhodium, and palladium. As the exhaust passes through, the metal and the gases react, and literally poof! The exhaust turns into less harmful pollutants.
How much platinum, rhodium, and palladium are we talking about? Around 4-9 grams per catalytic converter. But, looking at online market prices, it looks like a scrapped catalytic converter can fetch between $50-$300.
So, when two thieves hop out of a white Acura, roll under this F-250, and bust out the Sawzall, they’re likely maximizing profit by reducing the time spent making money. Oh yeah, and breaking all kinds of laws in the process.