Catalytic converter theft has been an issue in the United States for decades, but documented occurrences of catalytic converter theft have increased dramatically over the last year or so. While a catalytic converter is a relatively small item, people can steal yours right off your car within minutes and sell it for hundreds of dollars.

Replacing a catalytic converter can cost an arm and a leg, which is why we decided to put together this brief guide to help you prevent criminals from stealing your catalytic converter.

This article will discuss what catalytic converters are, why criminals value them, and various steps you can take to minimize the chances of someone stealing yours. Continue reading to learn more, and contact Watchmen Security today to speak with one of our experts about the security solutions we provide to keep you, your automobile, your home, and your place of business protected.


A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device located between the muffler and the manifold underneath your vehicle. The primary responsibility of a catalytic converter is to convert hazardous fuel emissions and harmful pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and hydrocarbons, into less dangerous gases.

All automobiles (except for vehicles manufactured before 1975) are required to have catalytic converters. Every gas-powered vehicle has it bolted to its underside. Unfortunately, people often steal catalytic converters from underneath cars because they are easy to steal and some contain metals more valuable than gold.


Stealing a catalytic converter is a relatively straightforward task that requires only a few tools and can be done in a matter of minutes. Most catalytic converters are positioned beneath the car, near the exhaust pipe, making them conveniently accessible to theft. Some catalytic converters can be sold as scrap metal for nearly $150 to $200.

Many catalytic converters contain precious metals such as rhodium, platinum, and palladium, all of which have significantly increased in value over the last several years. With the prices of these metals skyrocketing and many people out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise to us that catalytic converter theft has increased so dramatically.

Catalytic converters can cost car owners thousands of dollars to replace, and it is against the law to drive your car without one. Furthermore, the hole in your exhaust system can cause several issues. For one, your vehicle will be absurdly loud while it is running, and flames will shoot out the bottom of your car. This is dangerous and obnoxious, and it can cause further issues with your vehicle if you don’t take it to a repair shop.

Thankfully, you can use a few simple prevention methods to help make your automobile less of a target for catalytic converter theft.


While it’s impossible to eliminate the risk of catalytic converter theft completely, you can take these steps to reduce the risk of it happening and minimize the damages if it does happen.

  • Determine if Your Vehicle Is a Target
  • Check Your Car Insurance Policy
  • Mark Your Catalytic Converter
  • Park in Well-Lit and Secure Areas
  • Install Anti-Theft Devices
  • Install Video Surveillance Cameras and Other Security Measures

Determine if Your Vehicle is a Target

While every vehicle manufactured after 1974 has a catalytic converter, some makes and models have catalytic converters that are more valuable than others. If you aren’t sure whether your vehicle is a prime target, we suggest calling a reliable muffler shop or your local police department and asking what automobiles people target in your area.

Trucks and SUVs are common targets for catalytic converter theft because they are easy to crawl under and don’t require a jack to lift the vehicle in the air. Toyota Priuses are another common target. Since these cars are hybrids, their catalytic converters don’t have to work as hard, meaning they are in relatively good condition compared to other vehicles.

Check Your Car Insurance Policy

Next, check your car insurance policy to determine if part theft is covered under your insurance policy. Of course, this doesn’t help prevent people from stealing your converter, but at least the consequences aren’t as lofty if someone does steal yours. Furthermore, if you have a vehicle with a high risk of catalytic converter theft, such as a Toyota Prius, you might want to consider reducing your deductible. Catalytic converter theft is not covered under your policy if you only have liability coverage.

Mark Your Catalytic Converter

Some experts advocate writing your license plate number or vehicle identification number onto your catalytic converter with high-temperature neon orange paint. While this may not prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen, it will make it easier to identify and recover it if it does happen. This measure could potentially deter someone from stealing your catalytic converter, as it might warn a scrapyard manager that it was stolen, causing them to refuse to purchase it.

Park in Secure and Well-Lit Areas

Most catalytic converter thefts occur in parking lots where automobiles are parked overnight. If you are parking somewhere overnight, try to park your car underneath a light or somewhere out in the open. The more exposed your vehicle is, the less likely someone will try to steal your converter.

If you’re parking your car in a commercial parking lot for an extended period, consider parking your vehicle near building entrances, as there are more pedestrians and, therefore, more foot traffic. When parking your car overnight at home, park it in your garage instead of on the street. Many people park their vehicles outside because they don’t have enough space in their garage. If you do this, you may want to consider making room for your car.

Install an Anti-Theft Device

Catalytic converter theft has become so common that companies have created anti-theft devices. Some muffler companies will tailor a device specifically to your vehicle, and it only requires bolting a metal shield to the vehicle chassis to hide the catalytic converter.

You can also install a cable locking device around your catalytic converter. Because your catalytic converter is bolted to the underside of your car, people can easily remove it or slice it off. A locking mechanism makes it more difficult for people to steal your converter and requires professional tools to remove it.

Install Video Surveillance and Other Security Measures

Last but certainly not least, video surveillance and other security measures, such as speaker systems, are excellent methods of deterring catalytic converter theft. If thieves see that you have security cameras, they are more likely to avoid stealing your converter altogether, and if they do go through with the theft, you now have surveillance footage to provide to law enforcement and your auto insurance company.

The preferred catalytic converter theft prevention system at Watchmen Security is to deploy systems to stop the crime from happening in the first place. We install thermal detection cameras and cameras with artificial intelligence that can identify human beings in areas where they should not be. The cameras and live monitoring agents activate loud talk down speakers to drive the criminals away. If they refuse to leave, the live agents dispatch local law enforcement.

“Right now, the value of the precious metal inside catalytic converters is sky high, which is causing a rise in catalytic converter theft. The best way to prevent these incidents is to proactively monitor the area with video cameras and audio talk-down speakers that stop the person in the act before they have the time to cut off the catalytic converter. We have seen this system be very successful in keeping the wrong people off our customers’ property.” — Lucas Ingala, CEO/Founder of Watchmen Security Services


Despite being small vehicle components, catalytic converters are valuable items and expensive to replace. If you are a victim of catalytic converter theft, be sure to file a police report as soon as possible and contact local scrap yards to keep an eye out for any converters brought to them. Catalytic converter theft is on the rise, and Watchmen Security wants to help keep your vehicles protected.

At Watchmen Security, we understand the value of your property, which is why our number one priority is to ensure that you and your property are safe and secure at all times. Our commitment to providing customers with high-quality security solutions is one of the primary reasons we continue to be the most trusted security services provider in Kansas City.

Want to learn more about how Watchmen Security can help you improve your security systems and keep your property safe? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can provide you with cutting-edge security solutions to protect what is most important to you.

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