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Preventing catalytic converter thefts

by Ashleigh Petersen

Take 5 for Safety logoTake 5 for Safety is a monthly article designed to give equipment and event rental stores the information they need to conduct a five-minute safety meeting on a particular topic. Below are talking points for this month’s meeting. Click here to download the Take 5 for Safety signup sheet. This can be used to take attendance during the meeting. 

Introduction: A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that converts the environmentally hazardous exhaust emitted by an engine into less harmful gasses. Catalytic converters are targeted by thieves because they are easy to remove and contain valuable metals such as platinum, palladium or rhodium. 

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), catalytic converter theft claims increased 1,215 percent in 2021 compared to 2019. Many investigators are attributing the dramatic increase in catalytic converter thefts to rising metal costs. 

If a vehicle’s catalytic converter is stolen, the driver might not notice until they start their vehicle. According to Allstate, the following are key signs that a catalytic converter has been removed: 

  • Loud roar when the car is started and noise increases as the vehicle accelerates.  
  • Increase in exhaust fumes or unusual exhaust smells.
  • Missing parts under vehicle leading to muffler. 
  • Uneven or sputtering acceleration due to lack of exhaust regulation. 
  • Check engine light or inspection failures. 

The cost of replacing a catalytic converter depends on the converter quality and type of vehicle but can range from $1,000 to $3,000. 

Top five states in catalytic converter thefts, according to State Farm: 

  1. California 
  2. Texas 
  3. Illinois 
  4. Washington 
  5. Minnesota 

Which cars are most likely to have their catalytic converters stolen? 

To compile a list, Carfax looked at service reports for catalytic converter replacements from more than 60,000 service shops across the U.S. The list below of “Most targeted cars nationwide” is according to service records from 2019 through the first three months of 2022. 

  • 1985-2021 Ford F-Series
  • 1989-2020 Honda Accord 
  • 2007-2017 Jeep Patriot 
  • 1990-2022 Ford Econoline 
  • 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado 
  • 2005-2021 Chevrolet Equinox
  • 1997-2020 Honda CR-V 
  • 1987-2019 Toyota Camry 
  • 2011-2017 Chrysler 200 
  • 2001-2021 Toyota Prius 

Avoid being a victim. NICB recommends doing the following to reduce the chance of having a catalytic converter stolen: 

  • Install a catalytic converter anti-theft device. These are available from various manufacturers and can provide a level of security from theft.   
  • If parking a fleet truck at a business overnight, consider enclosing the vehicle in a secured area that is well lighted, locked and alarmed.   
  • For personal vehicles, if possible, park in a garage. If not possible and the vehicle must be parked in a driveway, consider installing motion sensor security lights. Lights may not provide complete security, but they may make some thieves think twice and leave the area and the car untouched.