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Officials urge car owners in Michigan to protect catalytic converters from rising theft risk

 Underside of vehicle missing its catalytic converter after a theft
Jim Osborne
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Underside of vehicle missing its catalytic converter after a theft

Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in Michigan, according to the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

The agency is urging people to protect their cars from these threats.

Catalytic converters reduce harmful emissions from cars. They contain rare, costly metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium.

It can take only a few minutes for thieves to remove the devices from under a car, so the crime is hard to prevent.

Experts say any car can be targeted, but trends show hybrids are being more frequently targeted, along with SUVs, because their high ground clearance makes it easier to get to the catalytic converter.

Nationally, catalytic converter theft increased tenfold from 2019 to 2020, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

State insurance regulators say people can add comprehensive coverage to their policies, install an anti-theft device, park in garages or other places where it's harder for thieves to gain ready access to the catalytic converter, and/or install motion sensor security lights.

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.