So I’m seeing some statistics that indicate shoplifting crimes are on a steady rise. Thefts have resulted in some of the largest shopping chains taking unprecedented steps to cut their store hours, beef up security measures and close locations entirely. Some blame a shift in state laws that lowered penalties for the crimes. Others point to the nature of the crime shifting from run-of-the-mill shoplifting to organized criminal rings. But there’s another area that thievery has invaded that might just affect your ride home tonight. That’s the theft of catalytic converters from cars. The ripoffs are surging as the precious metal market soars and thefts of catalytic converters have become big business. The devices look like a muffler and are attached to a vehicle’s emissions system. They’re increasingly coveted by thieves because they contain platinum, palladium or rhodium, precious metals that help convert hazardous exhaust emitted by an engine into less harmful gases.