It’s a crime of opportunity — one we hear about far too often — catalytic converter thefts are surging in the Quad Cities.

Unlike other car parts — which are often sent to chop shops — catalytic converters are targeted for their precious metals because of their value. Thieves can re-sell stolen converters at scrap yards for up to hundreds of dollars each.

The catalytic converter is a device which converts harmful emissions into less harmful pollutants before being released into the atmosphere

Since their adoption into the car industry in the 1970s the converter has led to a significant drop in carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions. In recent years the catalytic converter has also become a hot commodity for thieves looking to re-sell or recycle the used metals. Why?

Because two of the metals used are actually more expensive than gold.

“You crawl right under it and ever since they came up with these saws, everything’s all battery operated. Now you’ve got circular saws that are battery-operated. They just come under there, wack wack and they walk away with it and the trucks and buses they sit up high enough that you dont have to jack them up.”

When we reached out to local police to learn just how often these thefts are taking place in the Quad Cities, the Moline Police Department was able to tell me they’ve seen an uptick in the metals being stolen — but didn’t have an exact number.