Car catalytic converter thefts on rise in Tennessee

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Be careful where you park your car and pay attention to your surroundings when parking because catalytic converter thefts from cars are on the rise, according to Metro police.

A catalytic converter is a part under a vehicle that converts toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas to less toxic. The part itself has platinum, gold dust and zinc inside of it, which criminals sell for scrap.

At Woods Motor Company, crooks stole 40 catalytic converters in one night.

“I thought, ‘Oh no, not again because it is a big expense,’” Wood Motor Company Owner Eric Wood said. “It’s profit for them, but I have got to get a new converter, pay for labor and in some cases towing for cars.”

Without a catalytic converter, the cars Wood sells will not pass Metro emissions tests.

According to the mechanic for the car lot, each one can cost between $200 and $2,000 to replace, but the scrap metal only fetches between $50 to $100.

“They do not cut off every single one,” Wood said. “They know which makes and models have the biggest value.”

Woods told News 2 foreign cars like BMW, Volkswagen and Lexus, usually 2008 model years and older, have a higher value for thieves.

He said Chevrolet’s are also a hot target for catalytic converter thieves.

In some cases, according to Wood’s mechanic, a vehicle can have four catalytic converters.

A News 2 viewer reported their car was targeted in a long-term parking lot at Nashville’s International Airport.

Metro police confirm the theft and said there is at least one more report of a stolen catalytic converter. Metro’s Auto Theft division is investigating all the cases.

The Nashville Airport Authority said the airport has had seven reported incidents of catalytic converter thefts in the past year.

Three of those incidents were reported in the past 10 days.

“The Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority takes such reports quite seriously and has enhanced security in the parking lots,” Nashville Airport Authority Spokeswoman Shannon Sumrall said in an email. “BNA police, operations teams and parking personnel have increased oversight and patrols to prevent any future incidents from occurring.”

She continued, “Likewise, shuttle drivers have been reminded to be on the lookout and report any unusual activity. Any claim for loss should be filed with our parking operator company.”

It is possible the converters are stolen in Nashville, but taken to Kentucky to sell.

According to police, the regulations governing scrap metal sales are less strict there.

In Tennessee, people selling scrap metal must provide a federal or state identification card and a thumb print.

That is not required in Kentucky.

Metro police remind people to report any suspicious activity in their neighborhood and especially in large parking lots.

Anyone who sees something suspicious can call 615-862-8600.

If you know who stole the catalytic converters at the Wood Motor Company, or is responsible for any of the incidents at the airport, call Crime Stoppers at 615-74-CRIME.

News 2 is committed to tracking crime across Middle Tennessee. Visit for more coverage.

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