Commodity Thieves: Platinum, Palladium And Rhodium Are Flavors Of Choice

Thieves are working smarter, not harder these days as the prices of palladium and rhodium are on the rise. Cities all over the US are reporting spikes in theft of catalytic converters, commonly known as ‘exhaust pipes’, as thieves seek the golden nugget inside the converter – the catalyst.

This theft is not only expensive, but loud. When a car loses its converter it can sound like an airplane taking off in a parking lot. Trust me; you’ll know if yours has gone missing. The repair is a pricy one, too, many parts costing over $1,000 to replace and install. Even after victims submit claims to insurance companies, many are still responsible for high deductibles.

Those who know me know that I’m no mechanic (though I can proudly change my oil), but here’s how it works: small amounts of platinum, palladium and rhodium are thinly coated on composite materials inside the converter (which is affixed to the undercarriage of your car).

When heated exhaust passes through the converter en route from the engine, the metals convert the harmful gases inside (carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides) into safer ones.

With the prices of palladium on the rise, platinum nearly tripling in value (selling for more than $1500 per ounce) and rhodium selling at 18 times its 2003 value, stealing converters is an easy target for thieves seeking fast cash. Palladium is worth about 40 percent more now than it was five years ago.

Because instances of theft have risen so quickly, anti-theft devices haven’t been able to keep up. One device auto owners can consider purchasing sounds like a kitty-hostile torture device: the CatClamp. The device went on the market nine months ago, but it has only sold about 200 units. The piece locks in place like a cage over the catalytic converter with wire, putting a stumbling block in front of would-be thieves.

As disturbing a trend as this is, it points to a positive trend: prices of these precious metals—as well as gold and silver—are on the rise, and investors should seize opportunities to purchase them.

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March 4, 2008 at 8:59 AM Jen said...

A reputable welding and fabrication company in Toledo, OH. has a new patented theft deterrent designed just for catalytic converters . It makes too much work for the thieves in a hurry. The CatClamp is the only security system on the market designed exclusively to fight catalytic converter theft. It was in Newsweek online in January 09, 2008. Go to the CatClamp is much cheaper than repairing a vehicle after catalytic converter theft.

June 7, 2008 at 5:17 PM Joe said...

Check out the CATCUFF. It's an American made product that locks up a catalytic converter to the frame of the vehicle. It's a one-size fits all product that is easy to install, tougher than nails, and at only $49.95, is one-eighth the cost of other products, but with even more metal-thief thwarting deterrence and no annoying rattling or vibration. You can learn more at

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