HONOLULU (KHON2) — Catalytic converter thefts are not only hitting individuals but government vehicles as well. KHON2 recently learned seven converters from City vehicles at Kapolei Hale were stolen.
A State-owned vehicle in Kapolei and four others at Diamond Head Health Center were also targeted.
One insurance company tells KHON2 they have noticed an increase in the number of catalytic converter thefts.
“In fact, the insurance industry was sort of anticipating an increase because based on the 2008-2009 recession, when there was an economic downturn, there was an increase in the number of thefts occurring. So we were anticipating it, and unfortunate history does repeat itself,” said DTRIC Insurance Company vice president Mike Mishima.
Officials said that thieves also target hybrid vehicles because the precious metals inside the catalytic converter are less exposed to the harmful fumes.
“I heard, and I get this is all anecdotally, vehicles that have easy access, so for example a Honda Element, it’s like an SUV but it’s high enough off the ground that someone can easily crawl underneath and do what they need to do to remove the catalytic converter,” said Mishima.
A stolen converter is usually covered under insurance if the driver has comprehensive coverage, but it is a major inconvenience.
“They can’t use a car, and then you have to wait for a replacement part,” said Mishima. “It’s not cheap to replace the catalytic converter. It can cost thousands and that’s something impacting the insurance industry as well to have to pay for these losses.”
KHON2 spoke to the owner of Auto Recycling, who did not want to be on camera but said when he buys a catalytic converter he asks for a photo ID, ownership forms or registration of the car it came from, and then writes down who he got it from and when. The owner says this has been his way to deter thieves.