ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) — Catalytic converters are growing in popularity among thieves and the Salvation Army in Rochester is now victim.
“About three weeks ago we had the catalytic converter stolen off of the vehicle,” said Rebecca Snapp, Rochester Salvation Army Director of Community Engagement. “Now we’re on a waiting list. As soon as we can get the converter replaced we will, but it will probably be a full three to six months before we can have that done. And again, it’s a couple of thousand dollars of an expense to us too. It’s just unfortunate all around.”
Snapp also said another truck at the Salvation Army’s Red Wing location had its catalytic converter stolen a few months ago.
Data from the Rochester Police Department shows the Salvation Army isn’t the only non-profit hit within the last year. PossAbilities, an organization that serves people with disabilities, had catalytic converters stolen from six vehicles.
The data also shows that between August of 2020 and late February of this year, there have been at least 93 reported catalytic converter thefts in Rochester.
There were at least 37 reported cases of the devices taken from Toyotas and 25 from Hondas.
However, they were also taken from multiple Chevrolets, Fords, Isuzus, Mitsubishis, Dodges, Mazdas, GMCs and Kias.
Last December, KTTC spoke to the owner of Mirza Auto Sales who was out $10,000 after a group of thieves stole the car part from several vehicles on the lot.
The U-Haul on Civic Center Drive had 13 GMC trucks with stolen catalytic converters as well.
Joe Tilson from Tilson’s Auto Repair says the amount of money it takes to replace the part is more than what thieves are getting for taking it.
“The reason why people are stealing catalytic converters is because there’s three precious materials inside of them, platinum, rhodium and palladium. And rhodium is actually worth $300 a gram, and there’s generally a half gram to a gram and-a-half of rhodium per catalytic converter. So, depending on the makes and models, we’ve seen people get anywhere between two and five hundred dollars for catalytic converters,” he said.
It doesn’t take long for thieves to steal the part.
“Generally, people go after bigger vans because they’re easier to get at. And they go after hybrid vehicles a lot too just because they run on electric motors so there’s not as much exhaust flowing through them and it doesn’t ruin the previous material so fast and it makes them more valuable,” Tilson said.
The reason catalytic converters exist is to reduce the amount of harmful pollutants released into the air by a vehicle engine. It’s part of the exhaust system and it’s not too hard to tell when it’s missing.
“Generally what people hear is the exhaust which is super noisy. You start your car up and it’s really loud,” Tilson said.
It’s an inconvenience that impacts the Salvation Army’s pledge for “Doing The Most Good.”
“Anything that takes away from us being able to contribute dollars to our programs is really just terrible. $2,000, that could pay for people’s rent. It could feed people, it could house people, and help with healthcare,” said Snapp. “At the Salvation Army, we always have our doors open and our goal is to help people.”