Why Cars Are So Noisy (Platinum Commodity Theft — Part 2)

You are probably wondering why thieves would go through so much trouble to steal catalytic convertors. That rusty piece of junk at the bottom of an SUV or truck looks like worthless bent metal; however, platinum and the other rare earth metals in CCs are ready for the taking — and in less than two minutes. I do not want to talk about how to steal a cat, but rather the ease of extraction of the metal itself.

The catalyst pieces are removed by flipping up the cat lengthwise, pounding on one end until the catalyst pieces start to fall out of the open end of the converter.

The platinum-coated catalyst material on each individual piece appears as a silvery-bronze color located on the outer surface. The platinum can be picked and peeled off by hand, or by using a simple tool like a screwdriver, and normally flakes off in small pieces or nuggets. Complete platinum removal from the converter catalyst material takes less than an hour for a standard-sized catalytic converter. Considering the current spot market price of platinum and other rare earth metals, thieves are beating the effective minimum wage in most areas through stealing CCs.

For a 20-year period until 2007, platinum consistently traded at a higher price than gold. “White gold” (platinum and gold) wedding bands were in higher demand and were perceived as a higher standard product.

Trends are now changing with major economic shifts. In the past decade, gold rings became the dominant product due to price-parity shifting towards a premium in gold. Further decreasing demand are the proliferation of electric vehicles which do not have combustion engines that need CCs. The substitution effects in the platinum space are extremely strong and could put a net drag on pricing power for many years to come.

Platinum price trends:

Closing price 7/10/2021 $1,104.63

52-week price change +33.95%

10-year price change -34.98%

Edward Kim is co-founder and Chief Research/Compliance Officer at 3LA Ventures. You can contact him at ed@3lavc.com

July 10, 2021

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