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How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

When you start your car, you’ll know immediately if your catalytic converter has gone missing. The telltale sign is a loud rumbling or roaring sound as soon as you start your engine. Unfortunately, replacing this part isn’t cheap. In fact, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported that the average cost of repair and replacement is somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000.

Once you’ve shelled out the cash for a catalytic converter repair, chances are you’ll want to do everything you can to prevent it from happening again. And, with the holidays quickly approaching, now is the best time of year to protect your vehicle from theft. Here are three ways to avoid catalytic converter theft.

How Common Is Catalytic Converter Theft?

In 2018, a study from the NICB reported an average of 108 catalytic converter thefts in the United States per month. However, in 2020 following the pandemic, the NICB saw those numbers skyrocket to a whopping 652 cases per month in January 2020 and 2,347 in December 2020. The NICB also noted that the actual number of stolen catalytic converters may be even higher since many automobile owners choose not to report these thefts. Why? The cost of repairs is often less than a car insurance plan’s deductible.

Why Are Thefts on the Rise?

Catalytic converters contain precious metals, like rhodium, that are more valuable than gold. Thieves often take stolen catalytic converters to scrapyards and walk away with a pocket full of cash. Although stealing a converter is a felony, buying or selling one of these illegally is only a misdemeanor. Therefore, the profits are worth the risk for many sketchy car scrapyards. Even worse, a catalytic converter theft can happen in less than a minute. Opportunistic thieves often come equipped with pneumatic car jacks and cordless saws and complete the theft before anyone even notices it.

3 of the Best Ways to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

Theft can happen anywhere. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can protect your vehicle. The key to thwarting theft is making your vehicle less desirable and more difficult to target. If you’re ready to get started, here’s what to do.

#1 Install a Metal Garage

Parking in a closed garage is one of the most effective and money-smart ways to prevent theft. Not only will a locked metal structure deter catalytic converter theft, but it will also prevent vehicle theft of any kind. Additionally, metal garages offer the ultimate protection for your vehicle(s) and property at a lower cost than a traditional garage.

If you’re shopping for a metal garage, keep in mind that they aren’t all created with the same level of quality. Look for structures made from stainless steel for built-in corrosion resistance. Additionally, work with a trusted builder that offers warranties for their structures. At American Steel, we are proud to offer 20-year warranties for our stainless steel buildings and garages.

#2 Install a Cage or Clamp

In general, cages and clamps are mostly affordable options. These can be installed by anyone familiar with the underpinnings of a vehicle. However, we suggest consulting with your auto service center. One of the most popular catalytic converter clamps is the CatStrap. By design, this strap lays across your catalytic converter and provides a dense protective layer that dulls the teeth of a saw blade. There are also catalytic converter cages that are bolted or even welded to the vehicle’s frame. These anti-theft devices are usually made of high-quality, durable metal, like stainless steel or aluminum.

#3 Spray Paint Your Catalytic Converter

If you’re short on cash, spray paint is the cheapest option for deterring thieves. Because thieves must remove all the paint from the converter before taking it to the scrapyard, they will typically take one look at a brightly colored catalytic converter and run.

Other Methods

  • Etch your VIN into your catalytic converter: This allows police to recover your catalytic converter if it is stolen. Common sense says that if someone is illegally buying scrap metal, they likely won’t care if there is an etched VIN or not. However, if a thief is carrying your catalytic converter and they are pulled over in a traffic stop–should their vehicle be searched–you may be able to recover your catalytic converter.
  • Install a catalytic converter alarm system: Catalytic converter alarm systems are motion-sensor alarms that sound off whenever a catalytic converter is jostled. These are typically easy to install. Conversely, they are easy to uninstall. While inexperienced thieves may see an alarm and run, the pros may simply cut the alarm off and continue with the theft.

Protect Your Vehicle with American Steel

As you can see, there are several options when it comes to protecting your vehicle from theft. But, nothing compares to the peace of mind and home security offered by a metal garage.

While building a traditional garage can be expensive, you can accomplish the same goal for a lower cost with the help of American Steel Carports. If you’re ready to start building, explore our free Build & Price Tool and or check our financing options. If you have any questions along the way, contact our team for assistance! We’re always here to help.


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