CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Catalytic converters have become a prime target for thieves in recent years, and a new study found that over the course of a three-year period, the thefts have increased more than 700% in the Mountain State alone.

According to, a catalytic converter is a part of the vehicle’s exhaust system that helps clean the car exhaust. The converters are usually made with precious metals, which also attract thieves.

The study found that in West Virginia in 2019, there were only 16 catalytic converter thefts per 100,000 registered automobiles. This number rose to 35 in 2020, which is a 118.75% increase from the previous year.

In 2021, West Virginia’s number of catalytic converter thefts rose again to 130 per 100,000 registered automobiles, an increase of 271% from 2020. There was no change from 2021 to 2022, with 130 thefts per 100,000 registered automobiles being reported for the second year in a row.

According to the study’s statistics, the number of catalytic converter thefts in West Virginia grew between 2019 and 2022 by a total of 712.50%.

The company’s study found that, nationally, the number of catalytic converter thefts per 100,000 automobiles was 540% higher in 2022 than the total in 2020.

BeenVerified says the top “hotspots” for catalytic converter thefts in 2022 were:

  1. New York – 6261 thefts at a 183.8% increase
  2. New Jersey – 2826 thefts at a 152.3% increase
  3. Illinois – 3820 thefts at a 103.5% increase
  4. Connecticut – 1533 thefts at an 87.6% increase
  5. Pennsylvania – 3023 thefts at an 86% increase
  6. Florida – 2969 thefts at a 76.9% increase
  7. Massachusetts – 1370 thefts at a 68.3% increase
  8. Delaware – 249 thefts at a 61.7% increase
  9. Maryland – 1082 thefts at a 59.6%
  10. Louisiana – 800 thefts at a 54.1%

While the states above were the biggest “hotspots” by percentage in 2022, the states with the highest number of thefts per 100,000 registered vehicles include:

  1. New York – 141 thefts/100K vehicles
  2. Texas – 136 thefts/100K vehicles
  3. Connecticut – 122 thefts/100K vehicles
  4. Colorado – 117 thefts/100K vehicles
  5. Washington – 112 thefts/100K vehicles
  6. New Jersey – 108 thefts/100K vehicles
  7. California – 103 thefts/100K vehicles
  8. Oregon – 97 thefts/100K vehicles
  9. Minnesota – 93 thefts/100K vehicles
  10. Illinois – 89 thefts/100K vehicles

The study also found that some states actually saw a drop in catalytic converter thefts in 2022. Hawaii saw the biggest drop with a 44.4% year-over-year decrease, followed by North Dakota, Oregon, Minnesota, and South Dakota to round out the top five states that saw a decrease.

Experts also suggest there are ways vehicle owners can help deter thieves from swiping their catalytic converters. This includes installing anti-theft devices, parking your car in a garage or well-lit area, installing motion-activated lights or security cameras, getting a sensitive car alarm and considering stalling an alarm under your car, parking in public areas with higher pedestrian traffic, and engraving your vehicle’s VIN number as well as your phone number into your catalytic converter.