How to Help Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

There has been a steady rise in the number of catalytic converters stolen over the last year. MotorTrend even proclaimed in a March 2021 article that: Time to Worry about Thieves Stealing your Car’s Catalytic Converter.

How can vehicle owners help prevent being targeted?

What is a Catalytic Converter?

Since 1975, the US has mandated that all cars and trucks have a catalytic converter. Connected to the exhaust system, the device is used to filter out harmful emissions from cars. It is attached to the exhaust system and contains a catalyst that helps convert polluting emissions into ones that aren’t as harmful.

Why are They Stolen?

These devices contain precious metals, which are attractive to thieves who steal them to resell to black market third parties. Stolen converters can fetch $50 to $250 and quickly be snatched in as little as two minutes with a few choice tools.

The precious metals include gold, platinum, and palladium, which can garner as much as $6,000 an ounce, in the case of rhodium.

The process for stealing catalytic converters is also relatively simple, being an attractive prospect to opportunists. If there is no additional damage to your vehicle after the theft, you can likely drive it but it will be loud and also expensive. To replace a converter, your mechanic will charge you at least $1,000. If you have additional damage, it will cost you even more.

What Type of Car is most likely to have their Catalytic Converter Stolen?

Different vehicles have different kinds of converters, and some are more attractive to thieves than others.

A detective with the Long Beach, CA police department, Abram Yap, recently told Edmunds that he sees thieves are mostly hitting vehicles in driveways, strip malls or parking garages—anywhere cars are exposed. Detective Yap said he mainly investigates stolen converters from SUVs and trucks, especially late-model Toyotas and Nissans since they are higher off the ground. Research by the UK’s Fords of Winsford showed that hybrid cars such as the Honda Jazz, Toyota Prius and Lexus RX are often targeted because their catalytic converters work less hard than in other vehicles, so the materials targeted by thieves are less corroded.

How can you thwart the Thieves?

You can take a few precautions to make your car less appealing and dissuade thieves from targeting your vehicle. Using these tips in combination with each other can help minimize the risk of catalytic converter thefts, but you can never guarantee complete safety:

Park your Car with the Front or the Back Next to the Wall or Fence

Wherever your converter is placed, make it harder for thieves to access it from the front or back or the side. This position will also make it more difficult for thieves to access your catalytic converter, located on the underside of your car between the exhaust manifold and the muffler.

Park in Well-Lit Places

Choose to park somewhere where your car is visible and potentially in areas with nearby CCTV.

Park your Vehicle in a Locked Garage when at Home

If you have access to your own garage, parking your car or truck inside your space adds another layer of security.

Park between other Cars in a Public Car Garage

Whenever you are parking your vehicle in a parking garage overnight or long-term, park it between other cars. Thieves again will have difficulty jacking up your car.

Get more Alarms Fitted

Standard alarms may not trigger when the car is jacked up from the ground.

Getting a tilt sensor fitted can set off an alarm when the car has been jacked up from the ground, deterring thieves in the act. (This also helps with tire theft.)

Get a Specialist Lock Fitted

Many cars can be fitted with specially designed converter locks. These fit around your catalytic converter to make removing it considerably harder without the right tools. Many YouTube videos abound on these special locks.

Final Thoughts

Being aware of catalytic converter theft is part of the battle. Now that you understand why it happens, you can start to take action to protect your vehicle.

Secure parking can be one of the best deterrents but be alert of anyone suspicious. If you see someone suspiciously under a car, jacking it up, or working under the front of a car that doesn’t seem to be theirs, collect information and report this to the police.

Ed Smith took a keen understanding of the motoring industry through his studies and early business ventures. He now looks to advise start-ups and is extremely keen to make sure every entrepreneur gets the advice, which could make their business venture a success. He has been a guest author on various high authority automotive sites.

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