FRAMINGHAM – Thieves stole nine catalytic convertors from Keefe Technical school vans, this month, according to reports filed with Framingham Police.
Catalytic converter thefts has increased nationwide, in Massachusetts, and in Framingham.
Thieves slither under vehicles and can steal the exhaust part in minutes.
Framingham Police spokesperson Sgt. Rachel Mickens said the thefts from the Keefe Tech vans “probably happened over last couple of weeks.”
Framingham Police have no suspects at this time, said Sgt. Mickens.
The Keefe Tech vans are used by the various career shops at the regional vocation high school.
A catalytic converter is an exhaust system part located between the engine and the muffler.
All vehicles in Massachusetts are required to have one.
With more vehicles sitting in driveways, and not on the roads, due to the pandemic, sometimes the theft is not notices right away.
“We have had several stolen this year in various areas,” of the City, said Sgt. Mickens.
Dedham, Cambridge and other communities in the Commonwealth have also seen a spike in catalytic converters stolen in 2021.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the pandemic has seen a rapid rise in catalytic converter theft.
In 2019, an average of 282 catalytic converters were stolen every month.
in 2020 the average had risen to 1,203.
“This is a problem all over, because they can get good money for the scrap metal,” said Sgt. Mickens.
Thieves are stealing the catalytic converter to sell to metal dealers for hundreds of dollars.
Catalytic converters contain titanium, platinum, palladium, and or rhodium, which makes them valuable.
The value of titanium and platinum ($1,100 an ounce) are well-known, but the other two metals can fetch a lot of cash.
The price of palladium is about $2,000 and $2,500 an ounce, higher than the price of gold.
Rhodium is about $22,000 to $24,000 an ounce – that is more than 12 times the price of gold, $1,750 an ounce.
But for those who now have a vehicle missing a catalytic converter, the cost to replace is not cheap.
“The part is very expensive to replace,” said Sgt. Mickens.
To replace a catalytic converter can range from $600 to $2,000, depending on the vehicle, said Chris Connolly of Connolly Auto Group in Framingham.
Along with those Keefe Tech vans, in n Framingham, thieves have been targeting Toyota Prius and Ford Trucks, said Sgt. Mickens.
A vehicle can still operate without a catalytic converter, but it will not pass inspections, said Connolly.
California requires businesses to photograph anyone selling a catalytic converter to a metal dealer.
In Massachusetts, “all scrap metal sellers must be able to provide a legal state ID card. They must also sign a statement indicating that they are the owner of the metal that they are selling and are authorized to sell it. They can also be required to sign a recorded statement that they have not ever been convicted of metal theft.”
Every state is different, and as the law get stronger, many of the metals are sold online.
Individuals who own vehicles targeted for catalytic converter thefts, like the Toyota Prius, should park their vehicle in a garage, or in sight of a video camera.