According to State Farm, the largest auto insurer in the United States, the number of claims for stolen catalytic converters doubled within the year that ended in June 2022. Their customers alone reported more than 43,200 stolen converts in that year. Since 2019, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, converter theft has risen an astounding 1,215%. Just this past Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced the arrest of 21 people, who were accused of making $545 million through trafficking stolen catalytic converters.
So, you may be wondering what makes these catalytic converters so special, why are people stealing them at such a high rate? For those that don’t know, catalytic converters are used to help a car clean its exhaust, and have been targeted by thieves due to the price of the precious metals used to create the catalytic converters. Furthermore, it is extremely easy to steal the catalytic converters, which are located on the exterior of the car’s underside, which could easily be stolen within 30 seconds to a minute if you know what you are doing. Given the ease and amount of money the catalytic converters are, a number of people are looking for ways to protect their catalytic converters.
There are a number of anti-theft measures that are designed to deter a thief. The most simple solution is to protect your car away from public access when it is not being used. If you have access to a garage, park the car every night in your garage. If you do not have access to a garage, park your car in well lit areas, and installing a security camera could help to deter the thieves. Of course this does not help when parking in public areas like hospitals, grocery stores, or even schools.
In order to further protect your catalytic converter, there are workshops in some cities that car owners could have their vehicle identification numbers (VIN) engraved onto their catalytic converter for free. This could be helpful to identify the converter as yours if it was ever recovered. Furthermore, you could paint the converter with a bright color, high temperature paint, which the thief would have to scratch off before selling.
Some more expensive options would be to install an alarm system on the car that would be triggered by the vibration of the thief’s saw. Furthermore, one could install anti-theft devices that are designed to make the converter much more difficult to remove. Mechanics could even weld on metal plates or rebar to further protect the converter.
If your catalytic converter was stolen, there are a number of steps you should take to protect your investment. It is easy to tell if your converter is stolen, while the car may run still, it will be much noisier than usual. It is inadvisable to run the vehicle for a long period of time, really you should just drive it to your mechanic and leave it there to get fixed before driving it any further. As the converter is mostly used to reduce harmful emissions, without the converter your vehicle will pollute at a much higher rate and you could fail emissions inspections in the states that require them.
Aside from replacing the converter, the thieves could have damaged other parts of the vehicle since they used a saw to remove it. It is highly recommended that you have the vehicle looked at thoroughly to ensure things like the alternator or fuel lines weren’t damaged in the process of your converter being stolen. Finally, check your car insurance as comprehensive coverage will cover damage to your car that occurs outside of the collision, which would include theft.
Catalytic converters are essential for your car to run efficiently, so the thought that they are one of the most easily stolen items in the car industry is worrisome to say the least. Thieves target these converters as they are easy to steal and sold for a high price for their precious metals. Because of this, it is important to take precautionary measures to ensure your converter is protected from thieves. If your converter was stolen, make sure you follow the steps outlined in this article to protect your vehicle.