Phoenix man creates catalytic converter shield to help prevent theft

“There it is, they got it.”

It was early in the morning when Ben Lewis stepped out into the cul-de-sac of his Airbnb in Oakland. Lewis and his wife were supposed to return home to Phoenix the next day, but it was there: half an exhaust pipe hung from the back of Lewis’ Honda Element.

The catalytic converter had been stolen overnight.

As a result, Lewis’s vacation plans came to a halt. They had the Airbnb car towed to a local store where it could be replaced for a price ranging from $ 200 to $ 1,400.

Save about $ 2,700 in total for installation and new parts, Lewis and his wife had to make arrangements to sleep while the car was fixed. For Lewis, the benefits were the saving grace for his wallet.

“It was just a problem, you know. I didn’t wish that on anybody,” Lewis said.

A catalytic converter, which sits under the rear of the car just in front of the exhaust pipe, is full of precious metals.

It sends the hot exhaust gases through a rare metal filter like palladium. Palladium sold for around $ 500 an ounce in 2016, but is valued closer to $ 2,000 today, according to Kelley Blue Book and

Rhodium, also common in catalytic converters, sold for $ 640 an ounce five years ago. Today it sells for over $ 12,000 an ounce.

The latest data from SummerVerified reported that at least 1,501 catalytic converters have been reported stolen in Arizona, an increase of 956.4% from just 142 thefts last year.

The peak is the second highest in the country, behind Colorado, which has seen a 1,254% increase in catalytic converter theft so far this year, according to the study.

Avoid theft: Catalytic converter theft is on the rise in Arizona. Here is what you can do

After the stressful incident and upon returning home to Phoenix, Lewis decided to start working on his own protective device: a shield for catalytic converters that fit cars like his Honda Element.

There are some retailers that provide a catalytic converter Shields for different makes and models, but Lewis says his model is one of the hardest to decipher and one of the most profitable at a price of $ 300.

It takes 20 minutes to install and Lewis’s shields are made of drill-resistant stainless steel and can help foil flights in one of the main states for this kind of theft.

Arizona currently ranks eighth in the country for most stolen catalytic converters – 63 per 100,000 vehicles registered, according to the study.

The research team believes the trend won’t slow down anytime soon.

“Historically, 40% of all annual thefts occur in the last three months of the year,” said Kerry Sherin, spokesperson for BeenVerified.

With 49,611 thefts already reported nationwide as of the end of September, BeenVerified predicts that by the end of the year, thefts will reach 70,000, quadrupling the total of 14,433 thefts from last year.

How to prevent this from happening

According to BeenVerified, the vehicles targeted most often in 2020 were the Toyota Prius, Honda Element, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Tacoma and Honda Accord.

Experts say parking your car in a garage is the best defense if you are concerned that your new car’s catalytic converter may be stolen.

If this is not possible, park in well-lit or high-traffic areas and consider installing a security camera.

Another way to buy the shield to deter this crime is to have your VIN number or license plate engraved on your converter so that the police can track it if it is stolen.

If you are the victim of catalytic converter theft, file a police report.

Contact late-breaking journalist Athena Ankrah at [email protected] or on Twitter @AthenaAnkrah.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to today.

Comments are closed.