SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers were briefed Tuesday on the soaring number of catalytic converter thefts in the state.
Members of the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee plan to look at solutions as reports of thefts rose nearly 600 percent in two years.
“The problem itself is absolutely statewide,” Christopher Walden of the Utah Attorney General’s Office told the committee.
The skyrocketing thefts are causing another rush: the need for replacement parts.
“I would probably say [we get] ten calls a day on stolen converters,” said Scott Taylor.
When a catalytic converter is sawed off the bottom of a car, the mechanic or auto parts store reaches out to Team Allied Distribution for a replacement.
“We always see a few here and there, but it’s gotten bad the past year,” said Taylor.
Earlier this month, Utah law enforcement set up a sting targeting black market buyers and sellers. In one storage unit in North Salt Lake, a search warrant uncovered $100,000 in stolen catalytic converters.
The part being stolen cleans vehicle emissions and contains small amounts of palladium, rhodium, and platinum, which can be sold as scrap metal for quick cash.
“It’s easy. In less than two minutes, you can grab a converter that’s worth anywhere between $300 and $1,000 at the end of the day, you’ve got a pocket full of cash,” said Team Allied Distribution location manager Don Roe.
Unfortunately, victims are the ones left holding the bag. It can cost a couple thousand dollars to replace a stolen catalytic converter.
Based on what Team Allied is selling to shops, large trucks are among the most common victims, as well as Toyota Prius and Subarus. However, any vehicle can be targeted.
“It’s been everything across the board. You don’t know what to stock so you have to have a little bit of everything,” said Roe.