Spikes in catalytic converter thefts make for a long, costly repair

Catalytic converter thefts are up in Philadelphia since last year, according to police. The recent spike in thefts combined with supply chain issues and worker shortages, is making for a long wait time at the shop and an expensive bill for victims of catalytic converter theft. 

Authorities say there were more than 3,400 thefts in 2021 and now in 2022, there has been more than 1,300 so far. 

Depending on the car you own, local auto repair shops say that it could take a month or longer to get the necessary car parts in. 

Mike Schafer, owner of Schafer’s Auto in South Philadelphia, says that in his 21 years of running the auto shop, he’s never seen anything like what’s been happening recently—6 to 13 cut catalytic converters a week from mostly Mitsubishis, Hondas, and Toyota Priuses.

"Three days, one month, 3 months wait time for them [parts] to come in," Schafer said. "They used to be 3-400 dollars. Now, they’re 13, 14, 15-hundred dollars and that just started happening the last few weeks."

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As of recent, Schafer’s Auto Shop has had to bring in all of their cars inside at night to avoid thefts. The shop has fallen victim to thefts in the past, like Mark Murphy whose catalytic converter was stolen from his brand-new Mitsubishi. 

In just a five-hour window, Murphy says someone cut the converter off his 2022 Mitsubishi in February. Now, in mid-April, he’s still waiting for his car to be fixed. 

"I thought it would be easy," Murphy said. "I called maybe 2 weeks ago and they said late spring, early summer. It’s very frustrating." 

These crimes are not unique to the city, police say. Lower Moreland Township recently released photos of a highly organized group accused of hitting several vehicles in the area.  

Car repair shop owners say that people can get a cat strap installed on their cars to make it difficult for someone to cut the converter off. Unfortunately, they say these parts are costly too, starting around $400.