Catalytic Converters Stolen from 12 Greenville School Buses

Scrap yards country wide often buy catalytic converters to recycle them for the valuable precious metals contained within, mostly the platinum but palladium and rhodium are also valuable and found in some designs. As of today, the 24 hour spot price on platinum is $ 1503/oz while palladium is at $388/oz and rhodium’s volatility makes it an even more desirable metal for investors to collect.

None of these prices are what the thieves get of course, unless they’re running a sophisticated operation where the metals are turned to bullion. But even a few years ago, each catalytic converter turned in was rumored to net you somewhere around $50, and with metal prices high enough that scrap yards can make a better sale on the metals, thieves may be getting more. An article from 2008 in Wired claimed some thieves were getting up to $200 a piece for each converter, but that was when rhodium was at $7,800/oz.  Replacing a stolen catalytic converter will run you upwards of $1,000 so the business of stealing (and replacing) converters means big money all around.

From Fox Carolina:

GREENVILLE, S.C. — It only took a few minutes for Jerome Thompson to realize that something was wrong on Monday.

“(I) cranked my first bus up, (and) there was a loud noise like my muffler was gone,” Thompson said.

Thompson is the transportation specialist with SHARE Head Start in Greenville. On Monday, he checked to see if his fleet of buses was ready for his drivers. He said that when he started a second bus, he heard the loud noise again.

“I knew at that point that my catalytic converters were gone,” Thompson said.

Greenville police confirmed Thompson’s fears and said that thieves cut the catalytic converters from 12 buses.


Police said thieves steal those converters because of the valuable metal from which they are made. They said that the thieves most likely sold them to a salvage yard. Police said the swiped automotive parts caused about $8,000 in damages.

Thompson said that insurance will cover most of the repairs, but Head Start will have to pick up some of the cost. He said that several of the buses were repaired on Wednesday and about 95 percent of the buses are running.

Anyone with information about the thefts was asked to call Greenville County Crime Stoppers at 23-CRIME.

As metal prices continue to climb, both due to scarcity and the weakening dollar, catalytic converters will become a more tempting target for thieves as they’re easier to convert into cash than many of the other auto parts.


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