Catalytic converter theft has become exponentially more prevalent since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the NICB, catalytic converter thefts have increased ten-fold since 2018. While catalytic converters only take a thief a minute or two to steal, they can cost the victim thousands of dollars to replace. This past week in Ventura County, law enforcement arrested a ring of catalytic converter thieves after discovering multiple stolen catalytic converters inside of their vehicle. Read more below to learn more about what catalytic converters are, why they are getting stolen, and what you can do to prevent your catalytic converter from getting stolen.

What is a catalytic converter?

If your car runs on gasoline, you probably have a catalytic converter attached to your car’s exhaust system. Catalytic converters are important because they use precious metals to help remove harmful emissions from the air your car releases. It is harmful for gasoline engines to operate without a catalytic converter and in most states, it is illegal to drive without one.

Why are catalytic converters getting stolen?

Catalytic converters contain very expensive precious metals such as palladium, rhodium, and platinum. The value of these metals has drastically risen over the years and has become a lucrative target for thieves. Toyota Priuses and other hybrids are among the cars that see the most catalytic converters stolen because they contain more of these precious metals. Larger cars like SUVs are also vulnerable because the underside of the car is more accessible. Catalytic converters are relatively easy to steal, only taking a thief a minute or two and the use of a power tool, all while potentially costing the victim thousands of dollars. Thieves are capable of stealing catalytic converters in broad daylight.

What you can do to prevent catalytic converter theft.

There are a few ways you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim of catalytic converter theft. Parking your car in your garage, or a well-lit area can help deter thieves. You can also try using motion-activated floodlights or having a camera installed where your car is parked. People have also started etching the VIN and license plate number into the catalytic converter itself. This can deter thieves and make your converter easier to identify as stolen by law enforcement or catalytic converter recyclers. There are also catalytic converter anti-theft devices you can have installed on or around your catalytic converter to thwart thieves. Some of these devices include catalytic converter shields, locks, and other theft prevention devices that make it extremely difficult for thieves to remove the converter.

What to do if your catalytic converter gets stolen.

If you turn on your car and hear a low roar or rumble, this could mean your catalytic converter has been stolen. While accelerating, this sound will get louder. You may also be able to smell the harmful exhaust fumes coming from your car. This can also cause the check engine light to illuminate on the dashboard. If you notice your catalytic converter has been stolen, the first step would be to call the police and file a police report. Secondly, you will want to call your insurance and let them know of the theft. This may or may not be covered under your insurance, depending on your insurance coverages or carrier, but it is always wise to check. Lastly, you will need to have your car transported to a repair shop to replace your catalytic converter. It can be harmful and even illegal to drive your car without a catalytic converter, so be sure to get the part replaced as soon as possible.