Catalytic Converters a Target for Car Vandals

Earth and Water

Imagine this scene – you walk out to your car, start it up, and leave campus. Everything seems fine until suddenly your car starts making a strange sound and the dashboard warning lights signal a problem. Someone may have swiped your catalytic converter and you may have been the target of an increasingly common form of car vandalism. The catalytic converter is a part of the vehicle unknown to many but valuable to thieves as it uses precious metals like platinum and palladium as part of the exhaust system to control vehicle emissions.

This kind of vandalism is hard to detect as it does not require thieves to enter the car. The suspects are using small cordless saws to cut these converters from underneath the trucks and can do the job in minutes. Most often the suspects work in pairs; one is the lookout and possibly the driver while the other cuts the converter off the vehicle. Once the job is done the converters are generally taken to Las Vegas where they can be sold for $600.00 or more.

From May of 2009 to the present, catalytic converter thefts on campus have exclusively been taken from Nissan and Toyota trucks. Large parking lots are the most common site for these thefts, particularly O lot and the hospital parking terrace. As of today, there haven’t been any prosecutions for steeling these converters.

Tips for helping University Police Respond:

  • Report people who are driving through parking lots that have no intent of parking (driving by many open parking places), or those who stop by or walk around Toyota or Nissan 4 wheel drive trucks.
  • Report anyone who is under a car.
  • Park if possible, near any known camera or heavily traveled area day or night.
  • Please report odd or unusual behavior in parking lots to us at 801.585.2677

Contact Info

Shireen Ghorbani

Sergeant Mike Richards

  • University of Utah Police
  • 801.585.2677