First of all, what are catalytic converters?
Catalytic Converters are required on cars manufactured after 1975. They convert toxic exhaust pollutants created by gasoline combustion engines into less harmful gasses such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen, and water. This occurs when the gasses interact with catalyst particles contained in three metals. They are shaped like a small muffler and are most often bolted onto the bottom of the engine.
Catalytic converter theft is on the rise!
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks crimes reported to insurance companies, the number of reported catalytic converter thefts increased from approximately 1,300 in 2018 to more than 52,000 in 2021. That’s an increase of roughly 1,215% from 2019! In 2022 catalytic converter thefts from January through July are up nearly 16% compared to the same time period in 2021.
Why is your car’s catalytic converter vulnerable to theft?
Catalytic Converters are valuable to thieves because they contain three very expensive metals: Platinum, priced at $977 per ounce, Palladium is $2,271 per ounce, which is more expensive than Gold, and Rhodium, which sells for
$18,300 per ounce. Thieves sell these catalytic converters for as much as $800 to recyclers, which are then melted down to extract the precious metals.
Catalytic converters are easy to steal.
It takes a thief an average of three minutes to steal the catalytic converter underneath your vehicle. They can be removed with a simple wrench (for converters that are bolted on) or a reciprocating saw (for converters that are welded in).
Catalytic converters can be expensive to replace.
The cost of a catalytic converter can be up to $3,000. Add to that the labor to replace it and the repair costs of any damage the thief causes, make it a very costly theft. When you do need to replace your catalytic converter the aftermarket alternatives, which can be cheaper than a factory replacement, may not last as long or perform as well as factory converters. And because it's a model-specific, EPA-regulated emissions device, catalytic-converter replacement can cost thousands from your dealer. If you have comprehensive insurance coverage you will typically be covered, but if you only carry liability insurance you could be out several thousand dollars.
What types of vehicles are prone to catalytic converter theft?
Hybrid vehicles are especially targeted as they have higher-grade converters that contain more of the valuable metals than regular combustion engine cars. The Toyota Prius tops the list here in San Diego County and in the west in general. SUVs are also sought after targets, because of their higher ground clearance which makes it easier for thieves to quickly slide underneath without jacking up the car. According to the North Coastal Sherriff’s Station, these are the vehicles targeted most frequently in San Diego County:
- Toyota Prius
- Honda Accord
- Honda Element
- Lexus RX
- Box Trucks
- Late Model SUVs
How will you know if your catalytic converter was stolen?
You will know your catalytic converter was stolen when you hear a loud roar after starting your engine, and your car won’t drive smoothly. You will also see smoke being emitted from your tailpipe(s).
What can you do to prevent catalytic converter thefts?
If you suspect that your vehicle could be at risk for catalytic converter theft, the following actions on your part can minimize the likelihood of it happening:
1) Park your car in the garage if possible.
2) If not, park in a well-lit area and use motion sensing lights
Motion sensing lights are a great way to deter petty theft and home burglaries as burglars feel exposed in the light.
3) Engrave your catalytic converter with an identifying number.
Catalytic converters with an identifying mark like a VIN or license plate number make it harder for a thief to sell so they may just move on to the next vehicle instead.
4) Install an Anti-Theft add-on device.
There are a variety of aftermarket products that make it harder for a thief to remove your catalytic converter. Anything that slows down a burglar will increase your chances of foiling the theft. One of the most popular options is to install a metal shield, such as Cat Shield, which covers the catalytic converter. It’s hardware makes removal difficult, and thereby time- consuming. Not all vehicles will accommodate this and it can be quite
expensive depending on your model. Another option is to use wire cables to keep it secure. Cat Clamp is a popular model. Cat Strap is another option. It is a bright orange cover made of steel that dulls the thief’s saw
blade so that it can’t cut through the material. If you aren’t inclined to climb under your vehicle to install these yourself you will need to pay a mechanic to install them for you.
5) Get live video monitoring.
According to SANDAG property crime rates in the San Diego region increased by 9% in 2021 from the previous year, with one in nearly 68 residents falling victim. $668,000 was stolen per day last year, and only about one-third of the value of stolen property was recovered. And in this region theft of motor vehicle parts was up 71%, with catalytic converters being stolen most often. So the need for security cameras to protect your property is clear.
While traditional video cameras that are not monitored by live guards in real-time might deter some thieves, they don’t do much to stop the real pros before the crime happens. However a Pioneer security system with live-monitored video cameras has a much better chance of deterring your would-be thief, and stopping the crime before it happens. These systems use AI to detect potential threats and trained security guards then intervene over the speakers to stop criminals in their tracks. And police will respond immediately because they are verified crimes in progress. Give us a call and let us show you how this level of protection is not as expensive as you may think!