BARNEGAT – The Barnegat Police Department is warning residents that catalytic converters are being stolen from vehicles throughout the community.
“A catalytic converter is a device that looks like a small muffler along the exhaust system. It is designed to convert the environmentally hazardous exhaust emitted by the engine and convert them into less harmful gases,” police said.
Recently, thefts have been on the rise due to the increase in price of the metals contained inside. Police said how converters are cut from the vehicles and are typically sold to recycling centers who will pay $50 to $250 per catalytic converter.
“According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in 2018 there were 1,298 catalytic converter thefts for which a claim was filed. In 2019, it was 3,389 thefts with a claim. In 2020, catalytic converter theft claims jumped massively to 14,433, a 325% increase in a single year.”
Barnegat Police have listed the following steps in an effort to protect your vehicle, as the repairs are sometimes not covered by insurance and can cost several thousand dollars to repair.
- Install a catalytic converter anti-theft device. These are available from various manufacturers and can provide a level of security from theft.
- Park fleet trucks in an enclosed area that is secured, well lit, locked and alarmed.
- Park personal vehicles, if possible, in a garage. If not possible and the vehicle must be parked in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights. While lights may not provide complete security, it may make some thieves think twice and they may opt to leave the area, and your car, untouched.
- Whether in the garage or outside in the driveway, do not leave your key or fob in the vehicle and set the alarm on your vehicle if equipped.
- Contact a muffler shop that can etch your vehicle’s VIN on the converter and spray it with a highly visible high-heat paint. Doing so enables law enforcement to track the converters which could lead to the arrest of catalytic converter thieves.
In addition, police said there is an increase of smash and grab style thefts from motor vehicles being reported by other jurisdictions. These incidents take place during the early morning hours between 4:30 to 7 a.m. at locations such gyms/fitness centers. Other incidents have occurred at various county parks within the state, police said.
Items taken are usually handbags and wallets left in the vehicle that are visible from the outside. Be sure to remove all valuables from your vehicle.