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June 29, 2021

The Lifecycle of Catalytic Converters – and What It Means for Scrap Metal Dealers

Nigel Dove

A catalytic converter being removed for vehicle processing. Photo courtesy of Nigel Dove.

Note from Tom Stanek:

In May, our team attended a few sessions of ISRI’s virtual conference – including one on catalytic converter theft, which is rapidly rising due to the precious metals they contain.

ISRI is reaching out and educating scrap metal dealers about this topic in order to stop legitimate dealers from purchasing stolen converters.

In order to better understand why thieves have focused on stealing these items, I turned to Nigel Dove. The founder and CEO of Vortex De-Pollution & Recycling Equipment, Nigel knows his stuff backward and forward. He and his company have a conscious dedication to the client and making the depollution process safe and productive.

In this guest post, Nigel shares with us the lifecycle of catalytic converters – which is quite eye-opening! – what makes them so valuable, and how you, the scrap metal dealer / yard owner or manager can determine legitimate converter scrap versus stolen items.


Catalytic converter theft is rampant because that’s where the money is. One converter can net a thief $300. Twenty converters can net a thief or ring of thieves $6,000 – a nice haul for an hour or less of effort.

Catalytic converters are very easy to remove – all that’s needed is a $20 Sawzall and a minute or two of uninterrupted time.  One thief or a few working together can clear out entire parking lots. Think long-term parking at airports, rental car fleet lots, and new vehicle holding lots.

What makes a catalytic converter so valuable? The precocious metals they contain.

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