Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scrap Metal and Gold Thefts on the Rise

Aside from auto design engineers, garage mechanics and gear heads, who cares about a run-of-the-mill catalytic converter? Increasingly, scrap metal thieves do, and here’s why.

Catalytic converters, one of the key cogs in an auto’s emission control system, are a veritable treasure chest of valuable scrap components. Converters include three precious metals: platinum, palladium, and rhodium. Each of these metals trade on the global commodity exchanges and, as of early March, were commanding high prices: platinum at $1,070 an ounce; palladium at $205 an ounce; and rhodium at $1,200 an ounce. That’s a $2,495 payday for a scrap metal thief who harvests one ounce of each of these.

The hours are good, too. Snagging a converter on the sly isn’t difficult for someone who knows that they’re doing—thieves often make off with them in 60 seconds or less.

For consumers who are the victims of scrap metal theft, the cost can be high. Replacing a catalytic converter can cost up to $2,000.


  • "Google Earth Used for Scrap Metal Theft", Tech-Ex, 3/16/09.
  • "Scrap Metal and Gold Thefts on the Rise", Main Street, 3/11/09.
  • "Partnering to Combat Metal Theft", ISRI.
  • "Minimizing Your Exposure to Scrap Metal Theft", The Hartford, 2009.
  • "The Big Meltdown", Guardian, UK, 6/25/08.
  • "Recyclers urged to fight rise in scrap metal theft",, 4/18/08.
  • "Red Gold Rush: The Copper Theft Epidemic", CSO, 2/1/07.
  • "Scrap-Metal Theft a Growing Global Problem", Fox News, 1/19/06.
  • Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries website.
  • Stop Metal Thefts website.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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