Catalytic converters theft has become such a scourge that New York Governor Kathy Hochul passed legislation and announced measures to curb the alarming rise in catalytic converter theft. Governor Hochul said that thefts of the pollution-reducing device have become a ‘serious problem’ and that New York car owners deserve to sleep without fearing someone will steal the valuable catalytic conductor from their cars.
Ford F-150 catalytic converters get stolen frequently. According to statistics, the popular Ford F-Series trucks suffer the highest catalytic converter thefts. Thieves target F-Series pickups because the high ground clearance facilitates rapid catalytic converter removal.
This piece looks at catalytic converter theft statistics. Furthermore, it explains why catalytic converter thieves target Ford F-150s.
Ford F-150 Catalytic Converter Theft Statistics
The Ford F-150 has been the United States’ best-selling car for over four decades. Its combination of luxury, utility, and robustness makes it perfect for all regions in the United States. Purchasing a Ford F-150 is a no-brainer, but the recent catalytic converter theft statistics may prompt some car buyers to consider other options.
According to figures from CarFax and The National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Ford F-Series was the most popular target for catalytic converter theft. CarFax studied reports detailing catalytic converter replacements performed by over 60,000 repair shops from 2019 to the first months of 2022.
The report concluded that Ford F-Series pickups from 1985-2021 were the most vulnerable to car theft. Ford featured twice in the top 10, with Ford Econoline vans placing fourth.
Considering the F-150 is the best-selling F-Series Ford, we can assume it accounts for the largest chunk of F-series catalytic converter thefts.
The NCIB and CarFax also concluded that catalytic converter thefts have risen since 2018. In 2018, 1,300 catalytic converter thefts; by 2021, catalytic converter thefts had grown to more than 52,000, an increase of over 3,900%.
It seems like the number of catalytic converter thefts will continue to increase. Such thefts were bound to multiply during the pandemic as people weren’t using their cars, making them easy pickings on streets and driveways. Furthermore, with most workplaces closed, the dire economic times may have contributed to increased crime.
The resumption of normalcy should have curtailed the rise in catalytic converter thefts. However, the economy hasn’t returned to normal, and given the lucrative nature of the catalytic converter black market, catalytic converter thefts have increased – and will likely continue to increase.
Nationwide 2022 statistics on catalytic converter thefts are currently unavailable, so we’ll consider the numbers in New York City. By 14th August 2021, citizens had reported 1,505 catalytic converter thefts, compared to 5,548 during the same period in 2022.
Therefore, thefts of the devices in the five boroughs have increased by around 269% over the past year. The rise in catalytic converter thefts is a nationwide issue, so If we consider New York City a microcosm of the United States, car owners – especially Ford F-Series owners – have cause for concern.
Why Is the Ford F-150 Targeted?
Thieves’ attraction to the Ford F-150 may not make sense to you at first. This section will shed light on the features making the F-150 a thief magnet.
The Converter Is Easy To Remove
High ground clearance – the feature that makes the F-150 such a brilliant off-road vehicle – also makes it susceptible to catalytic converter theft.
The converter is located on the underside of the vehicle. In a car with low ground clearance, thieves have to lift the vehicle to access the catalytic converter. However, in a car with a high ground clearance – like the F-150 – the thief can easily slip under the vehicle and remove the converter.
With no lifting involved, it’s harder for the thief to draw attention to themselves, reducing the chances of getting caught. It also makes stealing less laborious, a significant plus point for thieves. Therefore, a catalytic converter thief will likely target a Ford F-150 rather than a Ford Mustang.
Using a cordless cutting tool, it will take a thief a minute or so to cut out the catalytic converter. In around two minutes, a thief can slip under a Ford f-150, steal the catalytic converter, and escape.
If you drive a Ford F-150, you know it’s easy to give it the necessary maintenance to run smoothly. I’ve written a complete guide to discuss everything you need to know before working on your Ford-F 150. [Are Ford F-150s Easy to Work On? XX Things to Know]
Presence of Precious Metals
The catalytic converter houses chemical reactions that turn harmful emissions into water, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. Inside the converter are metal catalysts that facilitate the reactions. The metals often found in Ford F-150 catalytic converters are platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
The high value of these precious metals has contributed to the growth of the catalytic converter black market. At the time of writing, Metals Daily valued an ounce of rhodium at $13,900, an ounce of platinum at around $900, and an ounce of palladium at about $2,000.
Most thieves steal catalytic converters to sell to people who can extract these precious metals and sell them on the black market. The F-150 has at least two catalytic converters, making it a high-value target for thieves.
With an increased need for cleaner vehicle emissions, lawmakers will demand that car manufacturers find ways to reduce the toxicity of exhaust gasses from car engines. Such measures will make catalytic converter metals more valuable, leading to an increase in thefts.
Also, laws further restricting emissions will likely prompt manufacturers like Ford to increase the effectiveness of catalytic converters, making them more valuable in the black market. Given how easy it is to steal F-150 catalytic converters, the F-Series will likely continue leading the way in catalytic converter theft numbers.
The F-150 Is a Popular Vehicle
The F-150’s popularity inadvertently makes it a leading target for catalytic converter thieves. It’s highly likely that a catalytic converter thief will stumble upon several F-150s in one night.
In this scenario, the F-150s impressive sales figures work against the vehicle.
If you want a Ford F-150, buy one – it’s a brilliant vehicle. However, after purchasing the car, install a guard or cage to protect the catalytic converter from theft.
This anti-theft measure makes it harder for thieves to cut away the catalytic converter.
- New York Daily News: New York cracking down on catalytic converter thefts
- Forbes: These are the vehicles most likely to have their catalytic converters stolen
- Motor Biscuit: For F-Series pickup trucks top catalytic converter theft list
- AutoMasterX: Ford F150 catalytic converter scrap price
- Metals Daily: Live precious metal prices
- Torque News: Thieves target F-150 catalysts as pandemic goes on