One Man's Precious Metal Is Another Man's Catalytic Converter

Criminal entrepreneurs are eschewing hubcaps and hood ornaments for the precious metals contained in cars' catalytic converters.

John Nielson, director of automotive repair and consumer information for the American Automobile Association, told CNBC’s “Morning Call” that there are no national statistics compiled on the pilferage of the anti-smog devices, but anecdotal evidence suggests thefts are increasing.

Catalytic converters contain a gram or less of platinum, palladium and rhodium, but the recycle value of the precious metals means stealing a single device can put as much $150 in a thief’s pocket.

“The device is located under the car, and it’s easy to take off,” Nielson said Monday.

Catalytic converters also aren't hooked to cars' anti-theft alarm systems.

Nielson said drivers can reduce the chances of having their catalytic converter stolen by parking in well-lighted areas such as parking lots, driveways and garages, while avoiding deserted streets whenever possible.