Philly Towing Company Busted for Running Catalytic Converter Theft Ring

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Looking at the news, it’d be easy to think that catalytic converter theft is carried out by a wily group of bandits under cover of night, but that’s not always the case. A Philadelphia-based towing company is in hot water after almost a dozen people ran a theft ring that racked up millions in stolen catalytic converters. 

Authorities busted TDI Towing after gathering 5,000 hours of undercover work over three years. Police said the company grabbed about 175 converters each week, netting $300 each from selling them for the metals inside. The towing company boss and six other employees were in the group of 11 people arrested.

Though they look like a boring part of your car’s exhaust, catalytic converters are targeted for the precious metals that help them function. Thieves can sell them for a hefty sum, as prices for palladium, platinum, and rhodium have skyrocketed in recent years. It’s annoyingly easy for someone to slide under a car and cut out the converter, though there are some things you can do to protect your vehicle. 

Some companies are working to brand or mark catalytic converters to make them more difficult to sell, and authorities sometimes recommend marking them yourself. Other proposals could require the VIN or other identifying marks to be stamped on the converters before vehicle assembly. 

[Image: Rui Serra Maia via Shutterstock]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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6 of 8 comments
  • MaintenanceCosts MaintenanceCosts on Jun 29, 2023

    Shady activities in the towing business? It couldn't possibly be.

  • Undead Zed Undead Zed on Jun 29, 2023

    I'm surprised manufacturers haven't figured out a cheaper way to make a cat other than stuffing it full of rare earth metals in the last 45 years. Surely there's a better way to clean the exhaust than a box filled with platinum filters.

    • See 1 previous
    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jun 29, 2023

      "stuffing it full of rare earth metals"

      Precious metals (not rare earth), and the amounts are very small. Half a dozen paperclips worth is typical.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jun 30, 2023

    Just go electric.

  • Proud2BUnion Proud2BUnion on Jul 01, 2023

    I just replaced the 4 converters on my Mustang. The highest offer for scrap i received was $140 for all. not sure where that $300 each number comes from.