Catalytic converter theft has soared in recent years with thieves sawing off thousands of the devices for precious metals inside. In November 2022, federal authorities busted a massive $545 million cat theft ring that involved more than 20 people operating in five states. Despite the eye-popping numbers, CarFax estimates that cat thefts were actually under-reported in 2022, with the real number of cats stolen hovering somewhere around 153,000.
The reason? People who’ve had their cats stolen may not necessarily file an insurance claim after the theft. That number is somewhere around 53,000, with roughly one in three thefts being reported to insurers. CarFax said it calculated its number of 153,000 cat thefts last year using service records, accounting for old cats being replaced, defective or recalled cats, and cats stolen from dealers’ lots.
The list of vehicles that’ve had their catalytic converters stolen most often roughly mirrors what’s on the road anyway. The Ford F-Series truck was the most stolen catalytic converter last year, according to CarFax, which makes some sense: it’s perennially the bestselling vehicle in America. The Honda Accord follows the Ford in the No. 2 spot. Taking third place won’t be a surprise to anyone who’s followed catalytic converter theft for the past couple years: the Toyota Prius. Thieves target the Prius’ catalytic converter often because hybrids usually have more precious metals than non-hybrids as their engines don’t run as long and warm their cats. The Honda CR-V and Ford Explorer round out the top five.
Ford’s big Econoline van lands at No. 6 for some reason (down from No. 4 in 2021), while the biggest mover on the list last year was the Toyota Tacoma, which jumped 15 spots to No. 9 on the list nationally. The National Insurance Crime Bureau says cat thefts jumped 325% from 2019 to 2020, and states like Texas have seen thefts increase by 3,000% between 2019 and 2021.