© 2023 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

CMPD Warns Of Alarming Rise Of Catalytic Converter Thefts

Footage captured this converter being stolen on January 14, 2021.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department says catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in Charlotte and the region.

CMPD says in 2019 there were only 221 converter thefts. That number rose to 871 in 2020.

So far this year there have been 438 converter thefts.

Police say thieves are targeting Toyota Priuses, Ford Econoline vans, and Chevy Express trucks. Maj. Cecil Brisbon says these vehicles are targeted because of what the converters are made of — metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium. More than a third of the thefts have been in Toyota Prius models.

"The price of precious metals has gone up," Brisbon told reporters Wednesday. "And I believe some of those vehicles either A, the converters are easy to access in those types of vehicles, or B, the type of metal is more readily available in those vehicles and that’s why they are targeted."

CMPD Catalytic Converter Thefts.mp4

CMPD says the thefts happen quickly — and released a video showing a catalytic converter being stolen within three minutes. Vehicle owners are typically unaware there's an issue until they try to drive their car. It can cost hundreds, or even thousands of dollars to repair the damage caused from cutting off a catalytic converter.

CMPD is urging people to park in well-lit areas and garages when possible and to call 911 if they see suspicious activity.

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Select Your Email Format

Sarah Delia covers criminal justice and the arts for WFAE. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.