The Surge of Catalytic Converter Theft: Which Vehicles Are Most at Risk?

In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles. These emissions control devices, which contain precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium, have become hot commodities for criminals due to their high market value. The escalating demand for these metals, coupled with the relative ease of stealing catalytic converters, has resulted in a surge of theft incidents worldwide. In this blog post, we will explore the vehicles that are most vulnerable to catalytic converter theft and discuss measures to protect your vehicle from falling victim to this crime.

1. Trucks and SUVs: Prime Targets

One striking trend in catalytic converter theft is the preference for trucks and SUVs. These vehicles typically have higher ground clearance, making it easier for thieves to access the underside of the vehicle, where the catalytic converter is located. Additionally, trucks and SUVs often have larger engines, which contain more valuable precious metals within their catalytic converters, making them enticing targets for thieves.

2. Hybrid Vehicles: A Lucrative Market

Hybrid vehicles, renowned for their environmental benefits and fuel efficiency, have also become a prime target for catalytic converter theft. Hybrid vehicles typically have smaller, more compact engines, which require less precious metals in their catalytic converters. However, these converters are still valuable due to the higher concentration of precious metals per unit. Moreover, the electric components in hybrid vehicles reduce the risk of thieves being caught by sound alone, allowing them to carry out thefts more discreetly.

3. Older Vehicles: Easy Prey

Older vehicles, especially those produced before the mid-2000s, are particularly vulnerable to catalytic converter theft. The reason behind this lies in the design of older catalytic converters, which contain a higher concentration of precious metals. Additionally, older vehicles may lack the advanced security features found in newer models, making them easier targets for criminals.

4. Vehicles with High Ground Clearance

Vehicles with high ground clearance, regardless of their make or model, are generally more susceptible to catalytic converter theft. This includes pickup trucks, vans, and certain SUVs. The elevated position of the catalytic converter, combined with easy accessibility underneath the vehicle, provides thieves with an advantage. However, it is worth noting that any vehicle can fall victim to catalytic converter theft, as criminals are becoming more adept at carrying out these thefts swiftly and discreetly.

Protecting Your Vehicle

While catalytic converter theft poses a significant challenge, there are several steps you can take to safeguard your vehicle:

1. Park Strategically: Whenever possible, park your vehicle in well-lit areas with high foot traffic. Thieves prefer secluded locations where they can work undisturbed.

2. Install Security Measures: Consider installing a catalytic converter protection device or shield. These devices make it more difficult for thieves to access and remove the converter.

3. Engrave the Converter: Marking your catalytic converter with a unique identification number using an engraving tool can help deter thieves and make it easier for law enforcement to trace stolen converters.

4. Use a Garage: If you have access to a garage, park your vehicle inside whenever feasible. This significantly reduces the chances of your catalytic converter being stolen.

5. Install an Alarm System: A loud alarm can startle thieves and draw attention to their activities, discouraging them from proceeding with the theft.

Conclusion

The alarming rise in catalytic converter theft is a concerning trend that affects vehicle owners worldwide. While certain vehicles are more prone to this crime, it is crucial to remain vigilant and take proactive steps to protect your vehicle. By being aware of the risk factors and implementing preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of falling victim to

Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft

The nation has seen the numbers of catalytic converter theft skyrocket within the past 12 months. From July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, claims filed for catalytic converter theft grew by nearly 300% nationwide as compared to the year prior. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that catalytic converter thefts have seen a significant increase since the beginning of the global pandemic, March of 2020. The trend is climbing in 2021, leaving both individual car owners, fleet owners, and car dealerships on their toes.

In just moments, thieves stole 20 catalytic converters from a Mitsubishi dealership in La Porte, Texas. Countless of homeowners claimed that catalytic converters were stolen from right in front of their homes across the nation. Often times, the cars were in plain view of their front doors and windows, or even parking in their own driveways.

Why are Catalytic Converters Being Stolen at an Alarming Rate?

The clearest answer is due to the amount of precious metals used in the manufacturing of catalytic converters. They contain metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium. As of writing this article, platinum is worth $977.00 per ounce. That’s right, per ounce. Palladium is worth $2,428.00 per ounce, and rhodium goes for $16,250.00 per ounce. So which cars have the most catalytic converters stolen? Hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, are most often targeted because their converters contain the largest amount of precious metals. Additionally, they use less combustion meaning their converters retain those precious metals for a longer period of time. Full-size SUVs and trucks are also frequent targets because of the size of their converters and the fact that they’re easier to crawl under without the use of jacks.

Because of how expensive catalytic converters are, thieves sell them to scrap yards for several hundred dollars per piece. On the other hand, victims of converter thefts are left paying a hefty fee to replace them for these same reasons. What makes things worse is that in some states their vehicles aren’t street legal without a catalytic converter in place.

Symptoms of Catalytic Converter Theft

You may not be able to tell your cat was stolen just by looking at your car without jacking it up. However, you’ll know as soon as you start the engine. When the converter is missing, your car will make a loud roaring sound that gets louder as you press the gas pedal. Since the exhaust isn’t working properly, the vehicle also drives rougher than usual, often sputtering and spitting as you change speed. Visibly, you’ll notice a large gap in your exhaust and other signs of it being cut away.

Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft

Always park your vehicle in a well-lit area or in your personal garage, if possible. Thieves tend to prey on easier opportunities and will often pass-by high-risk targets. Park close to a building entrance or by a well-populated area since there is usually an increase in foot traffic. Calibrate your car’s security system so that vibrations will trigger an alarm.

If you live in an HOA or an apartment complex, urge your property manager to hire private security. Most of the time, the simple presence of a security guard is enough to deter crime and theft. You can also rally your neighbors to pitch in for private security services to patrol your neighborhood.

Many car owners are taking the steps to etch or engrave their vehicle’s VIN numbers onto their converters. In addition to this, many companies, like Cat Shield, Cat Security, and Cat Clamp, offer catalytic converter protection plates. The plates are often made of sturdy material and can be installed by a local mechanic in a short amount of time. This small step can help save drivers a ton of money down the road.