(KTLA) — Newly released data shows catalytic converter thefts appear to be on the decline after years of near-rampant activity.
State Farm reported Wednesday that the number of claims filed to report catalytic converter thefts is down significantly in 2023 compared to the previous year, marking the first decline since 2019.
So far, in the first half of 2023, there were around 14,500 claims filed related to catalytic converter thefts. That’s down from the 23,000 claims made during the same timeframe in 2022.
If that trend continues through the remainder of 2023, State Farm data indicates that the U.S. could see the lowest number of reported thefts in years.
Catalytic converters are regular targets for thieves. They can be cut from the undercarriage of a car and sold to recyclers for anywhere from $25 to $300 for a standard vehicle and up to $1,400 for hybrid vehicles, according to the vehicle data company Carfax.
The critical piece of automobile tech is used to filter out harmful byproducts from your car’s exhaust. They use precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium to accomplish this, and those metals can sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars per ounce.
State Farm says the average cost of a repair comes in around $2,900. So far this year, around $41.7 million has been paid out to State Farm customers to repair and replace the part.
Even with a decline, we’re still far off from dropping to the levels we saw in 2019, when State Farm reported that just 2,500 claims were filed, resulting in $4.7 million being paid out to customers for repairs and averaging $1,900 per claim.
In addition to just the cost of replacement, repairs today can take weeks to months, depending on the vehicle, due to a shortage of available replacement parts.
California still tops the dubious list of total catalytic converter thefts, with more than 5,400 claims filed and about $17.8 million paid out through the first six months of 2023. There were about 11,900 claims filed in California through all of last year.
The 10 states with the most reported catalytic converter thefts this year, according to State Farm, are:
- California: 5,420 claims and $17.8M paid out
- Texas: 1,440 claims and $5.1M paid out
- Illinois: 1,290 claims and $2.9M paid out
- Colorado: 660 claims and $2.0M paid out
- New York: 500 claims and $1.5M paid out
- Pennsylvania: 480 claims and $1.1M paid out
- Ohio: 410 claims and $898K paid out
- Minnesota: 400 claims and $934K paid out
- Florida: 330 claims and $896K paid out
- Washington: 320 claims and $773K paid out
Other states that have seen more than 100 claims filed include Missouri (270), Michigan (250), Virginia (210), New Jersey (200), Maryland (200), Arizona (180), Georgia (170), Nevada (160), Indiana (150), New Mexico (140), Kansas (110), Louisiana (110), Oregon (110), and Tennessee (110).
There are also a handful of states that have, so far, seen 10 or fewer State Farm catalytic converter theft claims: North Dakota (10), New Hampshire (7), South Dakota (6), Maine (5), Idaho and Rhode Island (4), Montana and Vermont (3), and Wyoming (1).
Every state has seen a decline in catalytic converter thefts, though it’s worth noting the 2022 data shared with Nexstar is for the full year, while the 2023 data is only for January through June.
Based on the available data, it’s Hawaii that has seen the largest drop in catalytic converter thefts. After reporting roughly 280 in 2022, only 15 thefts have been reported to State Farm this year. Earlier this month, Hawaii officials noted the dramatic decrease, pointing to a new law making it harder to sell the precious metals contained in the car parts.
Utah and Oregon have also seen a drastic drop in reported thefts. Last year, roughly 170 catalytic converter thefts were reported by State Farm customers in Utah. This year, only 14 have been reported. Oregon reports have dropped from 1,230 in 2022 to 110 through the first half of 2023.
Despite the encouraging decrease in claims, some automotive experts believe that the problem of catalytic converter thefts might be underreported for various reasons.
Earlier this year, Carfax warned the nation might actually be underestimating how widespread the problem is because many car owners don’t file insurance claims. The possible explanation for that is that some drivers don’t have full coverage on older vehicles or some don’t have insurance at all.
Still, a reduction in claims would at least indicate that fewer thefts are being reported.
Even though the total number of claims is receding, vehicle owners are still being encouraged to take preventative action to minimize the risk of falling victim to one of these expensive thefts.
Drivers are encouraged to park in well-lit areas or leave their cars in a garage if possible. You can also get your VIN number etched onto the converter to deter would-be thieves. Some local law enforcement agencies have partnered with local auto body shops to offer this service at a lower price.
State Farm also encourages vehicle owners to check their insurance policy to ensure these types of thefts are covered.