Depending on your age, you may have memories of when catalytic converters were first required to be equipped to cars. It was back in 1975, and back then many people paid mechanics to remove them, my dad included.

It's fairly ironic now that instead of paying someone to get rid of the catalytic converter, you have to worry that someone will just cut yours out and walk away with it. But, that's what's happening not only in Rockford, but the rest of the country, too.

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Getty Images

What Exactly Is A Catalytic Converter, And Why Would Someone Steal One?

According to the experts at, catalytic converters "are a key component of a car’s emissions system, reducing the amount of harmful pollution going out the tailpipe. Catalytic converters transform hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxides – the bad stuff – into water vapor and carbon monoxide, the stuff we can live with."

As to why someone would want to go to the effort of cutting one out of a car, it's the stuff inside the catalytic converter that's valuable. The precious metal that’s inside, palladium, rhodium, and platinum, all can be sold for a tremendous profit.

Platinum, for example, was recently trading at $944 per ounce, and palladium was at about $2,190 an ounce. Rhodium – fasten your seatbelts for this one – was going for nearly $10,000. Yes, $10,000 per troy ounce. In comparison, gold was a mere $1,940 per ounce.

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Getty Images

Catalytic Converter Theft Is Up Almost 300% From Last Year

The director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Dennis Horton, joined the WROK Morning Show to warn Rockford area residents that these thefts are taking place everywhere, including Rockford, and the theft numbers are skyrocketing:

Illinois is the fifth in claims for catalytic converter thefts, and claims being made nationwide indicate that catalytic converter thefts have increased from 4,500 to 18,000 between July 1st of 2020 through June 30th of this year.

Other than parking in a well-lit area, or better yet, in a closed garage, there's not much you can do to prevent this from happening to you. You could grab something called a "Cat Shield," which is installed over your catalytic converter to make it incredibly difficult to steal, but they're pretty pricey, and you'll need to pay to have it installed.

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