Isn’t That Precious: Confessions of a Catalytic Converter Thief

I’ll always carry a torch for catalytic converters – an acetylene torch. I had to in my business. How else was I going to cut them out of the exhaust system?

Cut away view of a catalytic convertor. It’s a car’s liver.

Hello law-abiding citizens, my name is Eugene Clark and I was once a catalytic converter thief. My street name was Acetylene Gene and due to my dastardly deeds I had a carbon footprint the size of a crop circle. And while catalytic converters save the environment from ghastly gasses, they saved me from financial ruin. That is until I got caught platinum-handed by the Alameda County Sheriff while practicing my craft in a dark and unmonitored Costco employee parking lot. I had just harvested my 3rd converter of the night when Officer Malloy collared me. I knew I should’ve stopped at 1, but you know how it is when you’re at Costco – you always end up getting more than you planned on.


Since that eventful evening I’ve gone straight. I mean I’ve always been straight, it’s just that I no longer steal for a living (unless you count not paying rent at my girlfriend Stacy’s trailer). The Alameda County Probation Dept. sentenced me to house arrest and outfitted me with a hi-tech GPS tracking ankle bracelet. That didn’t last. I kept torching it off and selling the bracelet for its precious metals and valuable circuitry (old habits die hard). The Probation Dept. finally clamped on an unforgiving manacle of worthless iron and I got the message. I’m housebound once again (trailer-bound really) which is no different than my life during COVID. As part of my plea bargaining sentence I’m duty bound to enlighten the public on the nefarious ways catalytic converter thieves operate and how citizens can protect themselves against such rank thievery.


To the School Children of America

Kids, as the theme song for the TV series Baretta advised, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” Of course Robert Blake, the star of Baretta, is in jail for murder so I don’t know how valid this line of reasoning is. Let me come at you another way. I believe it really hurts your grades to spend too much time trying to picture your teacher naked. It’s a short term benefit that’s not helpful in the long run. But if I could say something more instructive and useful to the school children (and the court does order me to do so) it would be this: Kids, don’t meddle with precious metals. Rare earth materials belong either in the earth or under a car in the exhaust-scrubbing catacombs of a catalytic convertor. A life of larceny will eventually catch up with you so you might as well get on the straight and narrow so you can avoid living in a tin can with manacled ankles.


What do catalytic converters do? Yeah, what do day do?

Catalytic converters are like the automobile’s liver. They filter out (convert) harmful and poisonous exhaust gases into relatively harmless compounds. More specifically they transform carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and hydrocarbons into more environmentally friendly carbon dioxides and water vapor by means of chemical reactions. As the polluting hot exhaust gases pass through honeycombed chambers coated with precious metals at temperatures of 400°, chemical reactions occur that essentially neuter the malevolent gases and convert them into less noxious vapors.


Catalytic convertors have a salutary effect on the environment depending on if you know the meaning of the word salutary. Some regard catalytic converters as solid state chimney sweeps. It’s worth noting that despite the ubiquity of catalytic converters, the average vehicle still produces roughly 8 tons of GHG (Greenhouse Gases) annually, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. Now multiply that by 1.4 billion cars on earth and that’s a ton of CO2. Actually it’s 11.2 billion tons – almost as heavy as Homer’s The Odyssey.


That’s what’s different about today’s global warming. It’s not some endogenous cyclical process. It’s a gross imbalance of 11.2 billion tons of CO2 injected into the air annually. It’s not part of some organic long term cycle of heating and cooling that the Earth can naturally manage. The earth has never faced this level of unmitigated ecological imbalance since that asteroid impacted the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs and injuring Barbara Walters. Barbara has since recovered, but the earth may not be able to recover from this avalanche of CO2 as greenhouse gases slowly trap evermore heat. I’m not a doom and gloomer, I’m just stating it as a distinct possibility. It could be catastrophic. The only thing left would be Mt. Rushmore.


The Future of Catalytic Convertors

Similar to catalytic convertors, proctologists are perfecting a noise cancelling and odor-masking device for the flatulence market called a Fartalytic Convertor. With its patented Lubri-shaft® technology, it installs comfortably and securely into the human tailpipe and converts what might otherwise be embarrassingly malodorous and loud flatulence into aromatic and soothing white noise. Each person’s crack will now have its own signature bouquet. With Fartalytic Convertor ghastly gases are transformed into sweet smelling vapors while patented Toot-suppressing®  technology muffles the unwelcomed fanfare from the fanny. Cheeky stuff. As many predicted, it works on everybody but Charles Barkley.


Why Are Catalytic Convertors So Valuable?

Because they have a wealth of easily extracted rare earth metals such as rhodium, palladium and platinum within them. It’s actually a total of only a few grams, but with rhodium sitting at over $14,000 an oz. you can see why there’s incentive to harvest these undercarriage dwelling profit centers – a little goes a long way.

Rambling, But Funny Digression Alert: Why the term “oz.” is short for ounces I’ll never understand. Moreover, “lbs.” as shorthand for “pounds” is the least intuitive abbreviation imaginable. And isn’t the overly long word “abbreviation” a strange choice to describe something that’s been shortened. There should be a word for the counterintuitiveness of the long word “abbreviation” – maybe ectomy could be a word indicating something that’s been shortened. As in “lbs.” is an ectomy of “pounds.” Pounds had been ectomized; like an append-ectomy. This specialized word is similar to how the unique word “onomatopoeia” describes words that sound like the sound they make (e.g. cuckoosizzle and boom). And if you think I spelled onomatopoeia correctly the first time I typed it you’re crazy. No one can spell onomatopoeia, or Matthew McConaughey’s last name, correctly the first time. That’s why software engineers in Prague made Spell Czech. (I realize were a long way from Acetylene Gene looking for redemption by coming clean)

On the Black Market a stolen catalytic converter can fetch upwards of $400. On the White Market, Caucasians sell them for about the same price. A new catalytic convertor can set you back $2-3K so it behooves you to protect yours – that is if you don’t mind being behooved. 


Braggadocio Among Thieves

In my business I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard guys brag how they’ve stolen catalytic converters from Teslas. Really? Other guys say they’ve turned ordinary Chevy Suburbans into opulent Cadillac Escalades using something they call a Cadalytic Convertor. They can’t fool me though, because dumb knows its own.


Catalytic Converter: Season 1 Podcast Episodes

e1.    As a matter of fact this is my car…Officer Malloy

e2.   That’s a muffler you idiot. It’s worthless. Now go put it back. I don’t care if replacing the muffler leaves you exhausted.    

e3.    Meddle with precious metals will test my mettle

e4.    If they can’t take a joke…platin’um  

e5.   Joe Rogan discusses dimensions that haven’t even been thought of (I know it has nothing to do with catalytic converters, but you can’t have a podcast w/o Joe Rogan)


We’ve Exhausted Our Catalytic Converter Discussion – Pun Intended

I appreciate the Alameda County Probation Dept giving me this platform to inform the public about the scourge of catalytic converter thievery. I’ve done my utmost (as opposed to doing my upmost or just plain most) to present the 2 most effective strategies for safeguarding your catalytic converter: 1. buy an electric car or 2. take your catalytic converter with you after parking your car. My remedies may seem lackadaisical, but please remember, I’ve only had a sixth grade education. Nothing from K-5th and nothing from 7-12. Just the 6th grade, period. That’s it.  


Yes the bar is set low for me and fortunately I’ve been able to get underneath it. In fact, I currently work and park at that same Costco where I was caught platinum-handed. I make a good living and enjoy health insurance and the occasional Costco-sized 3-foot long churro. Heck I’m even paying Stacy rent and we’re looking at a double-wide. And now that I’m all in on protecting the environment my street name is no longer Acetylene Gene. It’s Green Gene the Recycling Machine.


And isn’t that precious?

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