Catalytic Converter Theft Fuels Thriving Black Market Recycling

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Friday, May 26, 2023
Luz E. Nagle

Catalytic converters are found in nearly all fuel combustion vehicles built over the last forty or more years.  The converters comprise part of a vehicle’s exhaust system and are designed to scrub carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants from the exhaust gases and convert the exhaust into much less harmful carbon dioxide vapor (CO2).  As the converters must operate at a temperature of around 400 degrees C, they are placed close to a vehicle’s engine, usually directly behind the exhaust manifold at the head of the exhaust system along the undercarriage of the vehicle.  The location and way they connect to the exhaust system render them easily accessible for removal by thieves, particularly on high-clearance vehicles (pickup trucks and construction equipment).