A nationwide surge in catalytic converter thefts during the pandemic has been costly to consumers and prompted some dealers to beef up overnight security on their lots. One frustrated used-car purveyor even spent his 67th birthday hiding inside a car to run surveillance.
Masoud Bayati has already had more than 40 catalytic converters cut out from beneath cars at M&B Auto Sales in Jackson, Miss. On July 9, Bayati used his gun to scare away someone trying to break into the lot, the Clarion Ledger reported.
Reports of catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed as the value of the precious metals inside them has soared. The National Insurance Crime Bureau said there were about 108 thefts a month in 2018, 282 a month in 2019 and 1,203 a month in 2020. More than 2,347 incidents were reported in December 2020 alone, and USA Today reported that nearly 26,000 of the parts were stolen from January through May 2021, a rate of more than 5,000 a month.