(The Center Square) – While Illinois remains third in the nation for catalytic converter thefts, State Farm Insurance has good news to report. After a COVID-related spike, the company’s new data reveals an 8,500 nationwide decline in the number of catalytic converter thefts it received for 2023.
Such reported thefts of this expensive car device fell from 23,000 in 2022 nationally to 14,500 in 2023, the statistics show.
“We’re seeing a significant decrease both in the number of claims and in the amount paid,” State Farm spokeswoman Heather Paul told The Center Square.
Though still just below California and Texas for top catalytic converter thefts, Illinois followed this promising trend of declining reports. This is evidenced by the approximately 1,300 claims at $2.9 million in total that State Farm received in the first six months of 2023, Paul said.
Putting the new data in perspective, Paul said, “we’re far below what we were at the same time last year.”
Illinois reported over 3,880 such thefts last year totaling $8.3 million, she said. The total catalytic converter thefts are higher, though, since these figures only reflect State Farm customers.
She noted a COVID connection to the previous spike in thefts, which may be the result of cars sitting longer during lockdowns and becoming easy prey to any thief with a few minutes and a hacksaw. Catalytic converters are prized for the precious metals they contain, which can bring thousands of dollars on the black market, Paul said.
Paul attributes increased public awareness through the media and new laws that make it harder to profit from theft.
“Several years ago, most people didn’t even know what a catalytic converter was,” she said.
Public information like State Farm’s reports is shining light on the issue.
Additionally, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed several laws that made it difficult to sell a converter without documentation and reduced the sale price to under $100, she said.
People can take precautions to protect their cars as well, Paul said.
If there’s no garage available, she said, “probably one of the biggest pieces of advice is to park in a well-lit area.”
Other suggestions are a video-camera surveillance system and etching contact information or a vehicle identification number into the catalytic converter. If stolen, the converter will be difficult to pawn off on a recycler. Lastly, she recommended making sure car insurance is comprehensive enough to cover this type of theft if it should occur.