One unexpected byproduct of the worldwide pandemic has been a dramatic increase in catalytic converter theft. Since COVID-19 began to create hardships across the country, there have been more and more converters being stolen.
High unemployment rates have left many people struggling to make ends meet. That desperation, combined with a hike in the cost of precious metals, is one of the primary reasons for the surge in catalytic converter theft.
If you own a vehicle and you do not have a secure parking spot, you may find yourself a target for these crimes. Also if you patronize road side mechanics, make sure you confirm that your catalyst is still intact underneath before you take your vehicle after any repair or maintenance has been done on it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help protect your car’s catalytic converter.
Why Do People Steal Catalytic Converters?
The catalytic converter (also known as a catalyst) is an emissions control device located in your car’s exhaust system. Harmful gases from the engine flow through the catalyst, where they are transformed into water vapor and carbon dioxide. The result is a reduction in pollutants from the car’s tailpipe.
Thieves are drawn to catalytic converters because these devices contain certain precious metals—which make them worth quite a bit of money.
What Precious Metal is in a Catalytic Converter?
Catalytic converters contain precious metals rhodium, palladium, and platinum. Together, these elements act as a catalyst—a chemical that starts a reaction without undergoing any change itself. It’s this catalyst effect that transforms pollutants from the car’s engine into harmless carbon dioxide and water.
How Much is a Catalytic Converter Worth?
All those precious metals make used catalytic converters valuable to tokunbo spare parts dealers and metal recyclers. An extra-large catalytic converter for SUV can be worth between #250,000 and #500,000, while small catalyst can be worth around #150,000 for sedan cars. What makes one converter worth more than another is the estimated amount of precious metals inside.
How Thieves Steal and Sell Catalytic Converters
Thieves only need simple tools to steal your catalytic converter. Typically, they will use a battery-powered cut-off tool, such as an angle grinder, to separate the catalyst from the exhaust pipe. Some may even use a traditional, hand-operated hack saw. Also keep an eye when you take your cars to panel beaters, some of them are specialist in stealing catalyst, replacing it with another metal that is not supposed to be used for the catalytic conversion thereby draining your fuels with a little noise from the exhaust. Always check the underneath of your vehicle before leaving the workshop to know if there is a welding job around the place your catalyst is inserted at the exhaust pipe.
Once the perpetrator has the catalyst in their possession, they can sell it to a tokunbo spare parts dealer or a metal recycler and get quick cash.
Each converter contains approximately 3 to 8 grams of precious metals that a smelter can extract. The metals can then go on to live second lives inside electronics, jewelry, and other sought-after products.
From the images above, it shows that one of the catalyst has been stolen and quickly welded back by the Panel beater after replacing the precious metals with wire gauze
Why Catalytic Converter Theft is on the Rise
There has recently been a jump in the price of precious metals. People are also getting more desperate for quick cash since, due to the pandemic, financial hardship is increasing around the world. These combined factors have led to a substantial increase in catalytic converter theft.
Which Cars are More Prone to Catalytic Converter Theft?
Although any car can be the subject of catalyst theft, certain types of vehicles are targeted more often than others.
Owners of the following models should be extra cautious.
Toyota Prius, Camry, Corolla, Highlander etc.
In a hybrid car, the engine (and, therefore, the catalytic converter) doesn’t have to work as hard as it would in a traditional vehicle. As a result, there’s a better chance the catalyst will remain in good condition.
That’s why thieves often target the most familiar hybrid—the Toyota Prius. Crooks find versions of the car built before 2011 particularly desirable because the catalyst is easy to access.
Honda Jazz, Accord, Element etc.
One vehicle that’s particularly enticing to thieves is the Honda Jazz. Older Jazz models have a catalytic converter that is exceptionally easy to steal.
In an attempt to make converter theft more difficult, Honda has added a tray to the underbelly on newer versions of the car. Many manufacturers, however, haven’t been as quick to deploy solutions, so new brands have stepped in to protect vehicles.
Installing a catalytic converter shield, can be done easily with a few basic tools.
Trucks and SUVs
Catalytic converter thieves also target trucks and SUVs. These vehicles have a high ride height that makes it easy for a crook to slide underneath and steal the catalyst.
How-to: Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention
Every modern, fuel-powered car (and nearly every diesel-powered vehicle) has one or more catalytic converters that can potentially be stolen.
The good news is that some insurance companies may cover catalytic converter theft. But because catalysts are so expensive, in some cases, a replacement can exceed the value of an older vehicle.
In other words, having your car’s catalytic converter stolen is a real headache. So, what can you do to prevent theft from happening?
Purchase a Catalytic Converter Protection Shield
Installing a shield to protect your catalytic converter is the best strategy. These shields, often milled from a single piece of high-strength aluminum, provide plenty of additional protection without adding unnecessary weight to your vehicle. Some people are attaching homemade mesh wire nets underneath their vehicles.
Other Preventive Measures You Can Take
Okay—maybe you don’t want to go as far as installing a protection device underneath your car. That’s alright; you can still take measures to prevent catalytic converter theft. Here are some recommendations:
- Park in a well-lit, highly visible area (near security cameras when possible).
- Park high-riding vehicles (i.e., trucks and SUVs) near low-profile cars. Doing so will make it difficult to access the catalyst on the taller vehicle.
- Etch your vehicle’s license plate number or VIN number into the converter. This will make it easier to trace the catalyst if it’s stolen.
- Install a Car Security Alarm that can be switched on to detect any human movement around your vehicle.
It’s also worth noting that you should park your car in the garage whenever possible. An enclosed parking place is an effective defense against catalyst theft.
Should You Be Worried About Catalytic Converter Theft?
Having your car’s catalytic converter stolen can be a significant financial burden.
But converter theft seems to happen more often in some areas than others. The crime also seems to happen in major metropolitan areas the most often.
How to Tell if Your Catalytic Converter Has Been Stolen (and What to Do About it)
If your catalytic converter gets stolen—you are going to know about it right away. With the catalyst gone, the exhaust system no longer reduces engine noise. And that makes your car really, really loud.
The first thing you need to do when your catalyst gets hijacked is to file a police report. You should also contact your insurance company to see if your policy covers catalytic converter theft.
After speaking to law enforcement and your insurance carrier, you should make arrangements to replace the converter right away.
Partste.ng makes getting a replacement catalytic converter easy and affordable. We offer a variety of converters for various makes and models at a price that’s far less than a retail store or dealership. For any further assistance, please contact us via WhatsApp or speak with a customer service representative on 08030831955.