The pollution-control gadgets are full of precious metals like palladium, and prices are soaring as regulators try to tame emissions. Crooks with hacksaws have noticed.
Michael Kevane, an economics professor in San Jose, Calif., didn’t give a second thought to parking his 2005 Prius in his driveway one rainy evening last month. But the next morning, when his son Elliot went to start up the car, “it sounded like a jackhammer,” Mr. Kevane said. “The whole block could hear the noise.”
The reason for the ruckus: A thief in the night had made off with the car’s catalytic converter, a critical emissions-control device that contains precious metals more valuable than gold.
Two days later, Mr. Kevane’s sister, Jean, who lives in Los Angeles, had the catalytic converter stolen from her 2003 Honda Accord LX. “I thought, ‘This can’t be a coincidence,’” Mr. Kevane said. It wasn’t.
Stricter car emissions rules around the world — particularly in China, which has scrambled in recent years to get its dire air pollution problem under control — have sent demand for the precious metals in catalytic converters surging. That has pushed up the asking price for some of the precious metals used in the device — like palladium and rhodium — to record highs.
For the rest of this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/09/climate/catalytic-converter-theft.html