Feds Announce Huge Catalytic Converter Theft Ring Bust

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague
feds announce huge catalytic converter theft ring bust

As if living through a pandemic and endless speculation that the United States is sliding away from democracy weren’t bad enough, some people decided that 2020 and 2021 were great times to start stealing catalytic converters at a record pace. The issue has been bad enough to make national news several times, but the Department of Justice just announced a major bust that could at least slow things down for a while.


Thieves can hack off a catalytic converter in moments and may be able to sell the component later for a decent profit, thanks to the metals used in their construction. We knew there were groups of people involved in the thefts, but the DOJ’s takedown of 21 people across five states shows that this is bigger than most of us thought.


The U.S. Attorney’s office says thousands of catalytic converters were stolen in California, Oklahoma, and elsewhere and notes that several defendants were involved in processing the parts for raw materials to be sold later. Prosecutors say that others transferred and received millions of dollars for the sale of stolen catalytic converters. 


Lawmakers and others have called for preventative measures to slow down or stop thieves altogether, including etching the car’s VIN into the components. Authorities are also starting to crack down on people and companies that knowingly purchase stolen catalytic converters. As an individual owner, the best things you can do to protect your car’s underside are to park in a well-lit area, get an anti-theft device or motion detector, or paint your catalytic converter to alert buyers that something might be off.

[Image: Dave Smith 1965/Shutterstock.com]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.


Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 8 comments
  • RHD RHD on Nov 04, 2022

    These will be charged in Federal District Court. Those found guilty of violating federal law will serve very long sentences in federal prison.

    Good-on-ya to the investigators! Catalytic convertor thieves are scum, and the higher-ups can rot for all I care.

  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on Nov 04, 2022

    Manufacturers are complicit in this.

    Considering the sophistication of anti-theft gadgets built in to modern vehicles is it REALLY beyond their engineers to make the Cat "inbuilt" ? Since they are designed for the life of the vehicle make them part of the subframe that the exhaust system feeds into and out of.

    I give them my patent - no charge.

  • Varezhka Given how long the Mitsubishi USA has been in red, that's a hard one. I mean, this company has been losing money in all regions *except* SE Asia and Oceania ever since they lost the commercial division to Daimler.I think the only reason we still have the brand is A) Mitsubishi conglomerate's pride won't allow it B) US still a source of large volume for the company, even if they lose money on each one and C) it cost too much money to pull out and no one wants to take responsibility. If I was the head of Mitsubishi's North American operation and retreat was not an option, I think my best bet would be to reduce overhead by replacing all the cars with rebadged Nissans built in Tennessee and Mexico.As much as I'd like to see the return of Triton, Pajero Sport (Montero Sport to you and me), and Delica I'm sure that's more nostalgia and grass is greener thing than anything else.
  • Varezhka If there's one (small) downside to the dealer not being allowed to sell above MSRP, it's that now we get a lot of people signing up for the car with zero intention of keeping the car they bought. We end up with a lot of "lightly used" examples on sale for a huge mark-up, including those self-purchased by the dealerships themselves. I'm sure this is what we'll end up seeing with GR Corolla in Japan as well.This is also why the Land Cruiser has a 4 year waitlist in Japan (36K USD starting MSRP -> buy and immediately flip for 10, 20K more -> profit) I'm not sure if there's a good solution for this apart from setting the MSRP higher to match what the market allows, though this lottery system is probably as close as we can get.
  • Jeff S @Lou_BC--Unrelated to this article but of interest I found this on You Tube which explains why certain vehicles are not available in the US because of how the CAFE measures fuel standards. I remember you commenting on this a few years ago on another article on TTAC. The 2023 Chevrolet Montana is an adorable small truck that's never coming to the USA. It's not because of the 1.2L engine, or that Americans aren't interested in small trucks, it's that fuel economy legislation effectively prevents small trucks from happening. What about the Maverick? It's not as small as you think. CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy is the real reason trucks in America are all at least a specific dimension. Here's how it works and why it means no tiny trucks for us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eoMrwrGA8A&ab_channel=AlexonAutos
  • Gabe A new retro-styled Montero as their halo vehicle to compete against the Bronco, Wrangler and 4Runner. Boxy, round headlights like the 1st generation, two door and four door models, body on frame.A compact, urban truck, Mighty Max, to compete against the Maverick. Retro-styled like the early 90s Mighty Max.A new Outlander Sport as more of a wagon/crossover to compete against the Crosstrek and Kona. Needs to have more power (190+ HP) and a legit transmission, no CVT.A new Eclipse hybrid to compete against the upcoming redesigned Prius. Just match the Prius's specs and make it look great.Drop the Eclipse Cross, I am not sure why they wanted to resurrect the Pontiac Aztec. Keep the Mirage and keep it cheap, make the styling better and up the wheel size. The Outlander seems fine.I like the idea of some sort of commercial vehicle, something similar in size to the Promaster City but with AWD.
  • El scotto Will Ford ever stop putting a V-8 in Mustang GT's? Not as long as Bill Ford is around. I haven't shopped for an F-150 in years; can you still get a V-8 in one? Y'all have that one pair of really comfortable shoes you wear when you go shopping? Not buying gas and low maintenance will make EVs your comfortable shoes. Virtual signalling? Naw, they're slip-ons.
Next