Nancy Miller knew she wouldn’t be driving to work.
“The engine started way too loud,” she said.
Parked overnight last Friday in front of her house off Mill Creek Drive, Miller’s locked Outlander Sport was missing its catalytic converter.
A long wait for replacement parts and a big repair bill awaited her.
Catalytic converters have been filtering engine pollutants from cars and trucks since the 1970s. Coated inside with precious metals, these canisters are like bags of jewels for thieves as they’re easy to steal from the undercarriage.
As demand for converters has increased because of tightening emissions rules, prices for these metals have soared. Criminals target hybrid models like the Toyota Prius, because hybrids produce fewer emissions to degrade the precious metals. Trucks and SUVs also attract thieves, because their high clearances make it easier to roll underneath and cut out converters with a cordless reciprocating saw.
The thieves can be under and out in less than two minutes.
Eden Prairie catalytic converter thefts spiking
Beginning 10 years ago in California, these thefts grew and spread nationwide.
Now, thieves are working Eden Prairie streets and parking lots to mine vehicles for converters they can sell for $300 online or at a scrap dealer.
Repair costs range from $1000 to $3000, depending on the vehicle model.
According to Ryan Kapaun, crime analyst for the Eden Prairie Police, reported converter thefts increased from 8 in 2019 to 55 in 2020. The 28 thefts reported in the first two months of 2021 put Eden Prairie on track to triple that number.
“We have extra patrols out, and we share information daily with neighboring departments,” said Kapaun. The legislature is considering a bill to disrupt Minnesota’s black market by making it illegal for individuals to possess used converters and for scrap metal dealers to purchase them unless the seller has proof of legitimate removal.
Catalytic converter theft: Actions you can take
Make sure you have comprehensive insurance on your vehicle. Also, the next time your car is on a lift, have your mechanic etch or spray your car’s VIN number or license plate number onto your car’s converters with heat-resistant spray paint.
Park in a garage, a secure location, or a well-lit parking lot, preferably between two cars with low clearance. If available, add or turn on a tilt/shock sensor to your car alarm.
Be sure to file a police report if your converter is stolen. That way the Eden Prairie Police Department (EPPD) knows the rate of theft and can efficiently respond with resources. The Eden Prairie police can be reached at 952-949-6200.