How much money is there

…in old catalytic converters?
Apparently enough to lead a bunch of heavily-armed guys to hold up an auto salvage/scrap metal business, and to have a running gun battle with the police in Elizabeth, NJ.

And–no–I do not live anywhere near Elizabeth, NJ.
The area of NJ in which I live is more likely to suffer from the presence of too many deer, bears, foxes, and other types of wildlife–which I why I live where I do!


Converters use so called “nobel metals”, such as platinum, palladium, and others. These are very expensive and can be recovered from old units.

If you figure $10-20 per, and a U-Haul full of 'em…Seems to me, it’d be awfully hard to unload 'em after an armed heist, which makes me think they had a buyer lined up ahead of time.

If there is enough money in it, they can go a few hundred miles or more and sell the old catalytic converters. Thieves broke into the house my daughter and friends rented while they were at a football game. They stole laptops and other stuff that was easy to unload. The were several other burglaries that night as they found out later. The police told them that the thieves were likely hauling the goods to Atlanta to sell to a fence.

I really dont think you can simply unload a TRUCK full of cats without questions, esp when you just robbed them at gunpoint. You’d either need to have a partner in crime, sell em one at a time, or pulverise the ceramic honeycomb and chemically extract the platinum (or ship it on a slow boat to China to have it done for you.)

“Converters use so called “nobel metals”, such as platinum, palladium”

Thank you Captain Obvious!


I really thought that all of the regulars in this forum were aware of the presence of NOBLE metals in catalytic converters, otherwise I would have pointed it out…

Someone hit a Budget truck rental yard around here and made off with over 100 catalysts. You would think that scrap yards would have to report this kind of thing when some guy has a pickup truck full on newish converters all with sawzall marks on the ends.

That assumes that all scrap yards are run by honest people. I imagine most are, but I’m sure that all are not.

In minneapolis they cut them off in the transit ride pool parking lots, especially higher SUVs.

In the NY Metro area, that has happened at long-term parking facilities, and even at car dealers’ lots, and it appears that it is fairly widespread in the outer boroughs of NYC–particularly with SUVs that can be crawled-under fairly easily.

Because of the news coverage about previous thefts, I was under the assumption that the general public–and especially the regulars in this forum–were aware of the value of the noble metals contained in those cats, thus my earlier comment…

who says they offload all those converters at once? take a couple to one scrap yard, then a couple more to another yard, etc. Get enough people in on it, and you could offload all of them at once, in various locations, but if it’s just one person, only an idiot would try to offload them all at the same time/place.

Or if you got a few acres, and know how to make aqua regia…

I believe these thieves had one single buyer, waiting to take the cats off their hands

The more people that are involved, the greater the chance of getting caught, in my opinion

Anybody know what parts stores give you for your old converter when you buy a new one? If non-working ones are worth a lot of $$, you’d think the parts stores would give you a big core rebate when you turned in the old one, making replacing a cat more cost effective than it seems to be.

Parts stores do not buy old converters. Converters are generally brand new, not reconditioned so there is no core deposit.

Garages are required to keep old converters for two years before disposing of them, at least in my state. The EPA wants to be able to examine your old converters if needed.

We tag our old converters with the date and invoice number and place them in a storage box.

what is the EPA s interest?

Gee sounds like like a theft magnet to me…does anybody actually swing by to inspect them, or is it just an audit threat hangin over your head?

Scrap yards pay based on size and quality (I.e. OEM worth more).

Looks like $100 scrap value for a catalytic converter. I have heard of copper being stolen out of ac units, used to say if it ain’t bolted down, a whole new world of deperate criminals.

@Barkydog…maybe for a big cat off a 24’ U-Haul box truck…seems I got $10-15 when I cut the clogged cat off the Tribute I was selling. (I’m sure I got a lousy deal, only turning in one.) Seems hard to credit a $100 scrap price when a universal cat can be acquired for as little as $120.

Sources I googled says a cat has ~1200ppm platinum, and ~300 palladium. That’s a bit more than a gram of the good stuff per kilo, and a cat honeycomb weighs in at probably 500g to 1kg. Given that platinum retails for $50 a gram, and still needs to be processed, and trades hands multiple times…$20 seems quite fair.

(I wondered if you could just pulverize the ceramic in a ball mill, then separate by density a la panning for gold. Cut out all the toxic and expensive chemicals in aqua regia.)

@meanjo75fan here is the link I was using. , sorry but I keep thinking of you as meaneyed joe no web reference available