What Does a Catalytic Converter Do and Why Do People Steal Them?

There are millions of cars on the road in the United States, and each is a source of air pollution. In an attempt to stem this pollution, cities, states and the federal government create clean-air laws that restrict the amount of pollution that cars can produce. One of these auto production changes came about in 1975 with a device called a catalytic converter. What does a catalytic converter do, exactly? The job of the catalytic converter is to convert harmful pollutants into less harmful emissions before they ever leave the car's­ exhaust system. All over the country, SUVs and trucks have become targets for opportunists looking to cash in on the valuable precious metals used inside catalytic converters. A standard catalytic converter contains several hundred dollars worth of platinum, palladium and rhodium. The ground clearance on trucks and SUVs makes for easy access to the converters, so all a thief needs is a reciprocating saw and about 60 seconds. This trend has police on the lookout in many parts of the country where this kind of theft has been a problem. Police caution SUV and truck drivers to park in busy, well-lit areas.