Catalytic converters are essential for reducing emissions and protecting the environment. They also contain some precious metals, making them a prime target for thieves. They sell the valuable metals inside these devices to scrap metal dealers, making them an attractive target for criminals.

In this article, we'll share strategies to help you protect your vehicle from catalytic converter theft, keep it safe and secure, and what to do if it gets stolen.

Catalytic converter on a Toyota Prius

Catalytic converter on a Toyota Prius. Waiting to be stolen

Why Do Thieves Target Catalytic Converters?

Catalytic converters are essential parts of a car's exhaust system that reduce harmful emissions. They contain some valuable metals such as rhodium, platinum, palladium etc. These act as catalysts to convert exhaust gases into harmless substances like nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water.

However, these metals also make catalytic converters valuable to thieves who can sell them for scrap. Here are two of the most common reasons why catalytic converters are easy targets for theft:

They Are Quick and Easy to Remove

A skilled thief can use a portable saw to cut off a catalytic converter in just a few minutes. Sometimes, they don't need to jack up the car to access the converter. They need to find a slim person who can crawl under the vehicle and cut it off.

They Can Fetch High Prices in the Scrap Market

The average scrap value of a catalytic converter ranges from $100 to $500. Also, some converters, especially those with more precious metals, can be worth thousands of dollars.

For example, a Prius converter can sell for up to $1,000 in the scrapyard. Thieves often target multiple cars at once, so they can make much money in one night by stealing dozens of converters.

Which Vehicles Have a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters are more expensive for some vehicles than others, depending on various factors. However, thieves tend to target vehicles with more precious metals in their converters, such as Ford F-250, F-350, Toyota Land Cruiser, Chevrolet Silverado, and hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius, Rav4, and Auris.

The Prius has two converters that can each sell for up to $1,000 in the scrap market. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Prius is the most stolen car in the West. Also, according to the NICB, California is the state with the most thefts.

Another factor that makes a vehicle more vulnerable to catalytic converter theft is its clearance. Vehicles that have more space underneath them, such as trucks and SUVs, as well as fleet vehicles such as school buses, USPS trucks, and even Oscar Mayer's Wienermobile, which people often park in unguarded lots, are easier for thieves to access. They can slide under the vehicle, cut off the converter, and escape without being noticed.

The number of catalytic converters that a thief can collect also matters. Since each converter contains only a small amount of valuable metals, stealing dozens or hundreds of them is much more lucrative. Most thieves in the US sell converters to different scrap yards or metal recyclers without showing any identification.

Toyota Land Cruiser with Asfir 4x4 armor & protection

Toyota Land Cruriser. Gold on wheels for a thief

How to Protect Against Catalytic Converter Theft?

Catalytic converter theft is a common problem that can cost you a lot of money. To protect your catalytic converter from being stolen, you may follow these methods:

Know if your vehicle is a likely target: Usually, Hybrids, SUVs, and trucks have catalytic converters that are either more valuable or more accessible to thieves. However, you can make your catalytic converter harder to resell.

You can do this by etching your license plate number or vehicle identification number (VIN) on your catalytic converter. This way, you can alert a scrap yard if it was stolen and help identify the owner.

Park smartly: If possible, you should use a locked garage or park in well-lit areas near public exits. Change your parking spot frequently so the thieves don't notice.

Install a protection kit: You can use an underbody bash plate like a skid plate that covers your catalytic converter, making it more difficult to reach and remove. Most skid plates are designed for off-roading but can also deter theft by covering the cat partially or fully.

Use cameras and lights: You can install cameras and motion-activated lights in your parking area to scare off thieves or capture their faces and license plates.

Paint your catalytic converter: It is a good idea to paint your catalytic converter with a bright color. The color will make it more visible and less attractive to buyers.

What to Do If Your Catalytic Converter is Stolen

If someone steals your catalytic converter, there are some things you can do to handle the situation. Here's what you should do:

Report the theft to the police

First, you must call the police and file a report. The police can check nearby surveillance cameras to see if they can catch the thief. A police report can also help you with your insurance claim.

Contact your insurance company

Your car insurance might pay for a new catalytic converter, depending on your insurance coverage. You should contact your insurance agent and see what they can do for you.

Visit a mechanic

Finally, you need to go to a mechanic and fix your car. A mechanic can tell you your options and why you shouldn't drive without a catalytic converter.

Insurance and Catalytic Converter Theft

If your catalytic converter is stolen, your comprehensive insurance will likely cover the theft. However, it's important to review the specifics of your policy to confirm what is and isn't covered. When making a claim, keep in mind that it will be subject to your comprehensive deductible.

For example, suppose you have a $1,000 deductible, and the replacement cost is $1,500. In this case, your insurance company will only reimburse you for $500. But they will leave you responsible for the remaining $1,000. Without comprehensive coverage, drivers must bear the total cost of replacing a stolen catalytic converter out of pocket.

Gearbox skid plate which covers the cats

Asfir 4x4 Transmission skid plate. Helps to reduce the chances


To safeguard your vehicle and prevent catalytic converter theft, it's essential to take some proactive measures. By following the methods, we have outlined above you can significantly reduce the risk of theft. However, you should know that even if you take these precautions, there is still a chance of theft.