MEMPHIS, Tenn. — (WREG) Catalytic converter thefts in the Memphis area are keeping auto repair shops busy and forcing vehicle owners to search for anti-theft devices to protect their property.
Sheila Brooks, owner of Advanced Muffler & Auto Service on Summer said repairs from catalytic converter thefts make up about 75% of their business right now.
“I would say we see at least three stolen a day and probably field several calls about catalytic converter thefts,” said Brooks.
She said customers not only want their vehicles fixed but want to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Brooks said there is nothing guaranteed to stop thieves who are after a particular car part, but there are products that can make their job more difficult.
“They can get the clamp. It slows the thief down probably another 8-10 minutes,” Brooks said.
The Cat Clamp, which uses cable wires to put a cage around the exhaust system sells from $180 to nearly $1,000, depending on the size of your car.
Brooks said customers have also requested they paint their catalytic converters with a bright heat-resistant paint to deter thieves. She also recommends a catalytic converter alarm or a catalytic converter shield.
“We call it a plate,” Brooks said. “They’ll have to unbolt some screws, and it will take more time to saw it through it.”
A catalytic converter shield will cost you about $200 to $500.
Chris Fortune with Discount Muffler & Brake said he is also getting requests for the anti-theft devices and thinks the shields work best.
“They can still cut through the cages,” Fortune said
Fortune said some customers have also asked him to engrave their vehicle identification number onto their catalytic converter, but he doesn’t think that will stop crooks from stealing them.
“The guys on the street buying them don’t care if the VIN is there because they don’t care if it’s stolen,” said Fortune.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, catalytic converter theft insurance claims increased by 1,215% from 2019 to 2021.
In Memphis, catalytic converter thefts are up 400%.
Monday, some students at the University of Memphis became some of the latest victims of the crime.
Several cars were vandalized outside Centennial Place dorm in the middle of the afternoon while the victims were in class.
Also, Monday, Ron Floyd brought his mother-in-law’s car to Advanced Muffler after someone stole her catalytic converter.
“It cost a lot of money, and she’s out of a vehicle for several days. So we deal with it,” said Floyd.
Floyd wasn’t surprised to hear how many converter theft victims were coming to the shop daily. He said if it happened to him, he would probably do whatever it took to protect his vehicle.
To prevent catalytic converter theft, Memphis police also suggest you park in a well-lit area, have your converter welded to your car frame, and calibrate your car’s alarm to set it off when it detects vibration.