U.S. hotels may still be in cost-cutting mode, but it is time for them to step up security to address the recent surge in catalytic converter thefts. Guests should not have to fear whether it is safe to leave their cars overnight.
Hotels Targeted For Auto Theft As Catalytic Converters Soar In Value
A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that converts toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants by catalyzing a redox reaction. In short, it is anti-pollution device. It also contains valuable metals inside. Apparently, the rhodium inside can fetch up to $28,000/ounce. Each catalytic converter contains about $200-300 worth of rhodium.
Thieves have targeted these devices during the pandemic and an alarming trend has been observed: hotels have been targeted. Think about the last time you were at a limited-service property like a Hampton Inn, Hyatt Place, or Courtyard. In most cases, you park your car in a lot around the hotel, which is open and uncontrolled. Look up: do you see cameras? Often the answer is no.
A Live and Let’s Fly reader has been victimized twice in the last month: both times the catalytic converter was brazenly stolen from a small truck in a hotel parking lot. One incident occurred at the Courtyard by Marriott in Spokane, Washington and the second at a Hampton Inn in Hayward, California.
Thieves are not stupid: they see that hotels are greatly short-staffed during the pandemic and they also notice that hotel parking lots have no security cameras. The result? More thefts.
Across the country, NPR reports there has been a ten-fold increase in catalytic converter thefts since 2018, prompting calls for new legislation to add harsher penalties for those who steal and make it harder for those who steal to re-sell the catalytic converters.
But hotels need to step up and not subject their guests to unreasonable risk. If hotels are known targets and hotel owners fail to take measures to prevent such risk, they should be subject to liability.
Hotels should be on notice that thieves are targeting their parking lots for auto theft. It is time for hotels to step up patrols of their parking lots or at least introduce cameras. A dozen HD Nest cameras are not going to break the bank. In the meantime, consider rebar treatment (about $100) to protect your existing catalytic converter and turn a two-minute theft job into a near impossible one.