AUSTIN (KXAN) — Catalytic converter thefts increased from 27 cases in 2019 to a whopping 584 thefts in 2020, according to the Austin Police Department.

APD said looking at the 2020 data, the five-most-targeted vehicles are the Toyota Prius (263 thefts), Honda Element (60 thefts), Ford Econoline (37 thefts), Chevrolet Express (24 thefts) and Toyota Tundra (17 thefts).

The majority of the 2020 thefts involved a personal car and happened at or near the owner’s home, APD said.

Catalytic converter theft data for 2020 (APD Photo)
Catalytic converter theft data for 2020 (APD Photo)

Catalytic converters are sought after, because they contain precious metals like palladium and rhodium, APD said. These elements have increased in value over the past five years, and thieves are tempted to resell them.

APD suggests taking these steps to protect your car:

  • Park in areas that are heavily trafficked and well lit when feasible
  • If you have a garage with sufficient space, park inside and be mindful about closing the garage door
  • Weld the catalytic converter to the vehicle’s frame to make it more difficult to steal
  • Engrave the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter to make it easier to identify the owner
  • Calibrate your car alarm to sound if there is vibration detected

If your catalytic converter is stolen, APD asks that you file a report online or through Austin 311.