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What to Do if My Catalytic Converter Is Stolen? Risk, Deterrents & FAQs

catalytic converter in modern car

Unfortunately, catalytic converters are often a coveted car part for car thieves. They have a significantly high resale value, and their composition of valuable metals makes them a valuable commodity for junkyards and illegal chop shops. So, what do you do if your catalytic converter is stolen? And what vehicles are commonly targeted for this type of theft? The first thing you should do is file an official police report and then contact your auto insurance provider to alert them of the theft.

car and road divider

What to Do If Your Catalytic Converter Has Been Stolen

If you notice that your catalytic converter has been stolen, the first thing you should do is to either call the police or make a visit to your local police station. File an official police report and then contact your auto insurance provider to alert them of the theft.

You’ll likely need to provide them with the police report number for your records, so be sure to have it on hand. Some insurance coverages will replace the converter under the plan, with you only having to pay a deductible.

Catalytic Converter Close up
Image Credit: Ulianenko Dmitrii, Pixabay

How To Determine If Your Catalytic Converter Has Been Stolen

Due to the fact that you can’t see the catalytic converter unless you kneel down and look under your vehicle, you may not notice that it’s missing initially. However, when you start your car’s engine, you will likely notice a change. This is usually because a missing catalytic converter will cause the exhaust system to sound louder than normal.

Other common signs of a missing converter are a stalling engine, sputtering sounds, and an increase in exhaust smells. So, if you notice that the engine lags or stalls or suddenly smell what smells like rotten eggs coming from the vehicle when you press the gas pedal, you may want to take a look beneath your car.

To be certain, take a regular household mirror (such as a hand-held vanity) and kneel down on the side of your car to look beneath the cab. Look for any missing parts or a wide opening near the middle or tail end of your vehicle where the muffler is located.

If you notice that part of the pipe is missing or there’s a large space along the exhaust, chances are that the catalytic converter has been stolen.

What Vehicles Are At Risk For Stolen Catalytic Converters?

Though any vehicle can be at risk for having its catalytic converter stolen,  there or specific cars that are more at risk. This usually includes SUVs, trucks, and hybrid vehicles.

SUVs and trucks usually have larger catalytic converters (that yield higher sell prices) and they’re easier to crawl beneath–making easy access one of their main advantages. Hybrid vehicles, such as the Prius and Honda CR-V have high-quality converters that may retail for higher prices on black markets–which makes them a common target for thieves.

Catalytic Converter
Image Credit: Ulianenko Dmitrii, Shutterstock

Ways To Deter Catalytic Converter Theft

Unfortunately, catalytic converters are fairly easy to steal. Thieves simply crawl beneath your vehicle and saw the piece away from the rest of the exhaust system. This can be done in about 5 to 7 minutes. So how do you protect against this? Well, you have a few options.

Install A Cat Strap

A Cat Strap is an air-craft grade cable lock that it attaches directly to the catalytic converter. The lock is equipped with multiple steel cables covered in a high-temperature casing, making the converter hard to remove. Though thieves can cut through the cables if they have the right equipment, it will take them quite a while to do so.

Purchase A Converter Shield

A similar device is the converter shield. A converter shield is a thin metal wall that covers the top of the converter, making it fairly inaccessible. This plate attaches to the top of the converter via hardware that is drilled into the surrounding components. It doesn’t require welding; however, you may need a mechanic to install it for you.

Install A Universal Catalytic Converter Alarm

Whether active or passive, most car alarms are calibrated to go off whenever a vehicle vibrates. However, a catalytic converter alarm is designed to sound off whenever there is movement of the converter specifically. This motion-based alarm comes with a fob and will sound off whenever the converter is moved or jostled in any way.

car and road divider


Having your catalytic converter stolen can be a huge inconvenience. If you determine that yours has been stolen, be sure to contact the police to file a report and notify your auto insurance carrier.

This component can be expensive to replace, so it helps to take certain precautions if your vehicle is at higher risk of having it stolen. Vehicles with higher risk include trucks, SUVs, and hybrid vehicles. However, you can minimize the risk by using anti-theft devices such as car alarms and converter covers.

Featured Image Credit: Ulianenko Dmitrii, Shutterstock


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