Catalytic converter thefts in Arizona on the rise: Drivers potentially face big repair bills

If it sounds like more cars are rumbling around out there, you are not imagining things. It could be because catalytic converter thefts exploded in Arizona over the past year, with thieves targeting more of the exhaust systems than ever, according to a new report.

It is the precious metals in the converters themselves that thieves are after, and the problem could actually be a lot worse than what's in the data.

Mechanic shops flooded with calls

It is not a routine service call for one car at Goodworks Auto Repair in Tempe, but it is getting to be a regular occurrence.

"Yesterday, they went to start their car in the morning, and no exhaust," said Glen Hayward.

The catalytic converter for a Toyota Prius was taken on Jan. 3, so the owner called Hayward.

"This is probably the 100th one we've done in the last year," said Hayward.

Whoever stole it did a number on the rest of the car, too. If it is not covered under insurance, the owner is looking at some serious expenses.

"In the region of $1,600 to $1,800, usually," said Hayward.

Mechanic Mike Stanley says he has seen cases of thefts as well.

"We have a commercial account that had their parking lot, they have a fleet of vans and they stole their catalytic converters twice," said Stanley. "We put new ones on, they came back and stole them again."

Data: Arizona saw one of the biggest spike in catalytic converter thefts in U.S.

Background check company BeenVerified did a data analysis of the insurance reported thefts, and Arizona saw the second biggest spike in the entire country, second to Colorado.

According to the data, Arizona had 30 theft incidents in 2019, which jumped to 142 in 2020, and 1,501 through September 2021.

That data was based on insurance reported thefts, so if people are paying out of pocket, the number could be much higher.

As for a reason behind the spike, there could be a correlation between economic strife, and that fits the bill for the past two years.

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