Type "stolen U-Haul catalytic converter" into a search engine and you'll get scads of results on the issue sourced from local papers all over the country. Conduct that same search on vehicles in general and the results will be numbingly numerous, trucks and vans the victims in almost all of them because thieves can easily crawl under them. The latest spate of saw-and-grab robberies seems to stem from the New York City area, with the New York Daily News reporting that burglars have stolen more than 250 catalytic converters off U-Haul trucks in the past six months. With an estimated scrap value of $200, that means gains of at least $50,000 for the robbers compared to losses of at least $370,000 for U-Haul.
The company has 12 outdoor yards in the Bronx alone, plus Manhattan and Lower Westchester, and location owners have decided they've had enough. In addition to more lighting and surveillance at outdoor locations, converters are being tagged with a substance that can only be seen under blacklight and encased in rebar cages. While those measures could keep thieves off U-Haul lots, seeing that it takes less than a minute to steal an unprotected converter and get $200, we imagine they'll only pop up somewhere else.