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Catalytic Converter Theft: A Legal Perspective on the Growing Risk

One of the top issues facing organizations that manage fleet vehicles, or provide employees with automobiles, is the significant rise in reported thefts of Catalytic Converters from individual vehicles. Across the country, insurance claims of catalytic converter (“CAT”) thefts have increased from 4,500 to 18,000 between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021 — an increase of 293%.  According to a study conducted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau Operations, there were 108 catalytic converter thefts per month on average in 2018, which more than doubled to 282 average monthly thefts in 2019. By 2020 though, that figure increased nearly five-fold, to 1,203 average thefts per month in 2020. By December, 2020, 2,347 insurance claims were for CAT theft, doubling the monthly average.

This trend has only continued into 2021, and there is no end in sight as we close out this year. According to a report by State Farm Insurance, during the first six (6) months of 2021, the top 5 states with the highest number of insurance claims for catalytic converter thefts were California, Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Illinois.  The amounts of claims made in these five states, alone, totaled $14.21 million. Other states are by no means immune from this explosive rise in CAT thefts.  New York City has seen its amount of reported CAT thefts quadruple from October of 2020 through October of 2021. From Florida to Washington, every state in the Union is experiencing this meteoric rise in stolen catalytic converters.

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