VIGO Co., Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Catalytic converters are a prime target for thieves.

In Vigo County and Terre Haute, the number of catalytic converter thefts has increased significantly since 2020.

What is a catalytic converter?

According to Steve Finzel, owner of Finzel’s Mastertech, a catalytic converter is an emissions controlled device that’s in the exhaust system, found underneath a vehicle.

The device makes it so that carbon monoxide is not coming a vehicle’s tailpipe, and being spread into the environment.

Why do people want to steal them?

Inside a catalytic converter are three valuable metals, platinum, rhodium and palladium.

Those who steal catalytic converters try to sell them once they remove the part from the car. They can be sold for up to $150, depending on the size of the cat converter.

How are they taken and how do you know if it’s happened to you?

Catalytic converters can be cut out from underneath a vehicle. Finzel said some thieves have gotten so good at removing them, that it can be done within minutes.

“We’ve had customers that have gone out from being in a store, start the car up, don’t what has happened,” He said.

If a person starts their car and it is extremely loud, it is likely that the cat converter was stolen.

Can this problem be fixed?

Catalytic converters can be repaired or replaced, but it can be an expensive fix. Steve Finzel said it can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the assembly type.

Does insurance cover this?

According to J.D. Pizzola with State Farm in Terre Haute, comprehensive insurance for your vehicle can help with necessary repairs.

What are the penalties for catalytic converter theft?

Currently, catalytic converter theft is a misdemeanor. However, Indiana Senate Enrolled Act No. 167 is pushing to make the offense a level 6 felony. That would include at least six months of jail time and/or a fine up to $10,000.