Catalytic converter thefts have increased over 400% in the U.S. since 2019 and are most likely to occur in California and Texas, State Farm Insurance found.

Thief Stealing Car
Catalytic Converter Thefts On The Rise State Farm Insurance

The company's said data showed that catalytic converter theft grew 109% nationally between July 2021 and June of this year compared to the number of claims filed in the previous 12 months. State Farm, the largest auto insurance company in the U.S., paid more than $70.6 million in claims for catalytic converter theft between 2019 and August, reports KVUE, an ABC affiliate out of Austin.

Catalytic converters contain rare-earth metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium and are easy to steal. It can take less than 30 seconds to unbolt the device attached to a vehicle, David Glawe, president and CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, told PBS.

According to CarFax, hybrids are the most targeted because more precious metals are needed for a hybrid's catalytic converter, including palladium, which fetches about $2,200 an ounce, and rhodium, which goes for about $13,000 per ounce. Prices for the rare-earth metals have surged recently because of a global shortage.

Catalytic converters reduce emissions and improve gas efficiency by converting hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides into oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide.

Automobiles can operate without the device, but all 50 states make it illegal to do so on public roadways.

Replacing a converter can cost $3,000 or more and not all insurance policies cover thefts of incidentals. State Farm suggests using cable-locking devices or steel shields to prevent theft. Additionally, the company also recommends inscribing the vehicle identification number, or VIN, on the converter to trace it if a thief tries to resell it.