LOS ANGELES --- When fears about inflation are high, the price of precious metals tends to head upward. In fact, gold futures prices this week rose to their highest since 1980. Unfortunately for drivers and fleet operators, that trend has also led to a surge in the theft of platinum-laced catalytic converters. In the past month, thefts of catalytic converters have soared. The Los Angeles Times reported that the trend is nationwide. In Tennessee, the Highway Patrol even busted a thief cutting converters from cars impounded in one of its own lots. Platinum is more valuable than gold, and the platinum contents of a typical catalytic converter will fetch $40 to $50 from scrap metal dealers. After crawling under a parked car, an experienced thief can use a ratchet to unfasten the bolts holding the converter in about 90 seconds. Higher-clearance vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, are particularly vulnerable. One way to thwart the thieves is to weld the converter to the body of the car, making it much more difficult to steal. The cost is about $50. But just parking in a garage overnight, instead of parking on the street, greatly reduces the risk, law enforcement authorities told the Times.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials