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Missoula PD offers advice as catalytic converter thefts rise

catalytic converter
Posted at 1:25 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 15:30:10-05

MISSOULA — The Missoula Police Department and other law enforcement agencies are taking more reports of people removing catalytic converters from vehicles using some type of saw.

A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that reduces toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants.

The devices are usually used with internal combustion engines fueled by either gasoline or diesel -- including in lean-burn engines as well as kerosene heaters and stoves.

Catalytic converters are also valued for the precious metals they contain including platinum, palladium, or rhodium.

MPD asks in a social media post to “pay attention to anyone around random vehicles, or who seem to be working under a car in odd locations that might seem suspicious.”

Anyone who observes what appears to be a crime in progress or suspicious activity is asked to contact 911. Additionally, anyone with information about a potential suspect or suspects is asked to call Missoula Police Department Detective Nathan Mattix at (406) 552-6296.

MPD offers the following advice in response to the recent thefts of catalytic converters:

  • When possible, park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances
  • If you have a garage at your house, park your car inside and keep the garage door shut
  • Have the catalytic converter welded to your car's frame, which may make it harder to steal
  • Consider engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter — this may help alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen and make it easier to identify the owner.
  • Calibrate your car's alarm to set off when it detects vibration.
  • Put unique identifying features on your catalytic converter which may alert scrap metal dealers this may be stolen
  • There are aftermarket parts that can be installed to protect the catalytic converters from being stolen