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Which Cars Are Most Likely to Have Catalytic Converters Stolen?

catalytic converter in modern car

Most vehicle owners are familiar with vehicles being stolen for various parts including rims, alternators, transmissions, and compressors. But one component that many aren’t aware of is the catalytic converter. The rise and theft of catalytic converters from 19 2019 to 2020 was about 325%, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). But what vehicles are more likely to have catalytic converters stolen? And why do thieves steal this specific component?

car and road divider

What Is A Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters are located on the bottom of your vehicle and run along the exhaust system. They are made of various metals, and through various chemical reactions, help convert toxic fumes such as nitric oxide and carbon monoxide into less harmful vapors and gasses..

These less toxic gasses are then transferred out of the vehicle through the exhaust pipe. Every modern vehicle is equipped with a catalytic converter and some vehicles (such as the Ford F150) even have two catalytic converters.

Catalytic Converter Close up
Photo Credit By: Ulianenko Dmitrii, Pixabay

Which Cars Are Most Likely to Have Catalytic Converters Stolen?

Some vehicle makes and models are at increased risk of having their catalytic converters stolen. Here are the most common ones targeted.

Pickup Trucks and SUVs

Tall vehicles such as SUVs and pickup trucks are often targeted because they have larger catalytic converters and they are typically more convenient to steal due to the height of these vehicles. Some of these cars also have high-value converters (that have a high resale value), making them more desirable. Common vehicles targeted include the Ford F150, Toyota 4Runner, and Toyota Tacoma.

Low-Emissions Cars

Vehicles that have low emissions are also targets of catalytic converter theft due to the quality of the converter and the high filtration abilities of these cars. The converters in these vehicles are usually made of precious metals including palladium, rhodium, and platinum, which can result in high profits in chop shops and scrap yards.

Cars in this category often include hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius (which is one of the biggest targets of catalytic converter theft), Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Sonata, and Honda CR-V.

Honda CR-V 1.5 Turbo
Honda CR-V 1.5 Turbo (Photo Credit By: Alex Neman, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

Routine Car Parking

Routinely parked vehicles are also common targets of catalytic conversion theft. If you regularly leave your car in a certain space, such as an uncovered garage or out on the street, it may have a higher chance of being targeted for theft.

This is also more likely to occur if you stick to a specific schedule throughout most of the week for school or work. So, it’s best to take note of your driving and parking habits if you believe that your vehicle will be targeted.

Why Are Catalytic Converters Stolen?

There are different reasons why thieves may target your car for its converter. Here are the main ones.

Precious Metals

The metals used in many catalytic converters have a very high resale value. These valuable parts are typically the main interest for catalytic converter thieves. They can remove the converters, disassemble the metal pieces, and then resell them to unscrupulous car dealers, chop shops, and metal resellers for anywhere from $50 to $500 per converter.

Quick Access

The location of catalytic converters also makes them a prime target for auto theft. Unlike stealing tires or rims, catalytic converters can be removed without having to move the vehicle or perform extensive labor. They’re also located beneath the cab of cars which allows thieves to stealthily dissemble them within minutes without attracting much attention.

Aftermarket Converters Are Much Cheaper

Another reason why thieves go for catalytic converters is their aftermarket value and resell ability. A brand new catalytic converter can cost anywhere between $600 and $1,800, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Thieves know that catalytic converters will typically sell even if they are taken from older vehicles–which is why junkyards and scrap shops usually have them in large supply.

car and road divider

How To Prevent Your Car’s Catalytic Converter From Being Stolen

There are several ways that you can minimize the chance that a car’s catalytic converter will be stolen–and some of them won’t cost you anything.

Catalytic Converter
Image Credit: Ulianenko Dmitrii, Shutterstock

Be Diligent About Parking

If possible, try to park your car in a secure place such as a garage, carport, or covered garage that has a security guard. Many car thieves are simply opportunists that look for vehicles sitting in open spaces with not much street activity.

If you do park on the street, try to pick an area that is well-lit and has plenty of daily traffic. Also, try not to park in the same location or space every time you go to work or school–mix things up.

Get An Alarm

It may seem obvious, but having an effective car alarm can help prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen. Thieves who have their eyes on your vehicle are less likely to follow through with trying to remove the converter if they see a blinking alarm light inside the vehicle.

Also, they’ll need to physically saw through the metal on the converter to remove it from the exhaust system. The vibrations to the vehicle will typically cause the car’s alarm to sound off, which is a very effective deterrent.

Car Alarm
Image Credit: Pixabay

Install An Anti-Theft Device

You can also prevent your converter from being stolen by simply installing an anti-theft device on your vehicle. There are a few different options to choose from including steel shields, thick metal cables that weld the converter to the frame of the car, rebar cages, and custom converter options. The price for these devices will vary but may be worth the money if you have a vehicle that’s commonly targeted for its converter.

car and road divider Conclusion

Remember that no anti-theft plan is one-hundred-percent foolproof. However, it’s always better to be diligent when it comes to parking and using your car alarm consistently. And note that you can also purchase auto insurance that will cover the cost to replace the theft of your catalytic converter.

Featured Image Credit: Ulianenko Dmitrii, Shutterstock


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