The frequency of catalytic converter thefts has increased sharply nationwide. Some carriers are reporting as much as a 350% increase in catalytic theft claims over the past couple of years! On average, the repair cost from this type of theft is about $1,500, more if theives damage transmissions or other parts of the vehicle as they hastily attempt to remove the converter.
Catalytic converters are part of a vehicle’s exhaust system that help reduce emissions. They are attractive pieces to steal because they contain precious metals such as palladium, platinum and rhodium that can be sold to metal recyclers for up to $200 per converter. Taller vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, are often targeted because they provide easier access to the catalytic converter. Using a wrench or saw, a thief can steal a catalytic converter in just a few minutes.
HOW DO CATALYTIC CONVERTER THIEVES WORK?
The occasional or “opportunity” catalytic converter thieves go prowling and look for easy steals. Buses, vans and SUVs are common targets for theft because the higher clearance allows for easier access to the exhaust system, including the catalytic converter. Some thieves drive vans, because they offer some concealment when parked next to the vehicle(s) they’re targeting. The vast majority of the claims involve thefts from isolated vehicles (buses and vans) that are found in the parking lots of many schools, nonprofits and religious organizations.
To reduce the risk of catalytic converter theft from your organization’s vehicles, consider the following security measures:
- Keep vehicles locked and parked in a secured, well-lit area when not in use. If a garage is available, park the vehicle inside.
- Park vehicles near areas that have a lot of traffic driving by, instead of behind the building or in a dark corner of a parking lot.
- Avoid parking multiple vehicles together to reduce hiding spots and to increase the effort of moving tools from one vehicle to another.
- Consider the use of security surveillance cameras in the area where vehicles are parked. Cameras alone can serve as a visual deterrent, but they will also provide valuable footage should a catalytic converter be stolen.
- Adjust or calibrate the sensitivity of your vehicle’s alarm, if applicable, so that vibration will activate the alarm.
Other preventive measures:
- Have the vehicle identification number (VIN) engraved on the catalytic converter. This deters theft by lessening the likelihood of the part being resold to scrap metal dealers. Take it a step further and spray it with high temperature fluorescent paint.
- If your catalytic converters are “bolt on”, you can have the bolts welded shut. This is only a deterrent to the catalytic converter thief who works only with a wrench. Still, in some cases, it might be enough of a deterrent to help prevent a theft.
- Another option is placing a protective cover around it, such as the device known as the “Cat Strap” or “Cat Clamp”. These protective devices surround the potential cutting area of your catalytic converter with hardened-steel products that make it much more difficult for thieves with reciprocating saws to steal your converter.
Catalytic converter theft is a crime of opportunity, so the more difficult you can make it the more you will limit the opportunity.