FBINAA FBI National Academy Associates, Inc. Academic AFFILIATE LEVEL Alliance 2023


TODD FOREMAN, NA Session 237

L aw enforcement and the recycled materials industry can work together to slow the theft of catalytic converters, which have fast become a favorite target for criminals. In fact, solidifying the partnership between recyclers and law enforcement is an important step in preventing these thefts.

I n recent years, an unprecedented surge in catalytic converter thefts has challenged communities. The catalytic converter was once an obscure target for criminals, but now these emission con trol devices have become a hot ticket item on the black market. A primary motive behind the theft of catalytic converters lies in their value as a source of precious metals. Within these small, seemingly innocuous devices, are platinum, palladium, and rhodium; metals with prices that have skyrocketed in recent years. As demand for these metals increases — driven by industries such as jewelry, electronics, the medical field, and most notably, the automotive sector — criminals have seized the opportunity to cash in on the lucrative market for stolen catalytic converters. With a single unit containing a significant amount of these valu able metals, thieves can make a significant profit by selling them to unscrupulous buyers. In addition to the value of precious metals, technological advancements in vehicle design have played a role in catalytic converter theft, making some vehicles more vulnerable than oth ers. The increased ground clearance of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and trucks, coupled with the accessibility of the catalytic con verter under the vehicle, make them prime targets for criminals. Hybrid vehicles are often targeted due to the higher concentration of precious metals in their catalytic converters. Moreover, ad vancements in battery-powered tools have empowered thieves to swiftly remove converters in a matter of minutes, further embold ening their illicit activities.

The lack of standardized marking or an identification system for catalytic converters attached to vehicles makes them an easy target for thieves. They can easily remove the catalytic converter without fear of detection. Prosecutors do not want to prosecute these cases because of a lack of evidence tying the catalytic con verter to a specific vehicle. HOW RECYCLERS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT CAN TEAM UP The recycled materials industry has approximately 30 million catalytic converters entering the legitimate market every year. The industry provides a service of recycling palladium, platinum, and rhodium that keep the supply chains open in the United States. Law enforcement can work with recyclers and learn the regulations related to metal laws and other material recycling laws. Recyclers can share their record-keeping including video of vehicles entering their facilities. Law enforcement can work with recyclers to give them information about what to do when suspicious materials enter the facility such as: calling the police immediately, purchasing the materials and holding them, or just getting as much information on the individual as possible and allowing them to leave with the property. Free online tools are available to law enforcement provided by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI ), the Voice of

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16 FBINAA.ORG | Q3 2023

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