Catalytic converter thefts have risen by over 400% compared to 2020! But what’s a catalytic converter, and why are thieves targeting this car part? Are certain car models more prone to theft than others? Find the answers to all this and more below.
Thieves have been stealing catalytic converters from cars, trucks, and buses at an alarming rate lately. The precious metals that go into the making of these emission control devices are valuable. Two school districts in New Jersey alone have reported catalytic converter thefts from school buses not long after dealing with the remains of Tropical Storm Ida!
Here’s everything you need to know about catalytic converters. We’ll also take a look at why potential thieves are drawn to them and how you could deter thieves from stealing your car parts.
Why do thieves steal catalytic converters?
A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that transforms hazardous gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants. Catalytic converters contain precious metals, such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium that act as a catalyst. The catalyst helps in the oxidation of harmful gasses such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons present in the exhaust gases into less harmful carbon dioxide.
The soaring price of metals is one of the reasons behind the recent spurt in catalytic converter thefts in the country. The stolen car parts fetch a tidy sum on the black market. Recent supply chain disruptions have also led to the current situation. We spoke to a few mechanics about the ease with which thieves can steal this car part. The consensus was that it takes not more than 5-10 minutes to steal the part from the car’s underbelly.
The process of stealing a catalytic converter is so fast and quiet that car owners do not know if this car part has been stolen until they start their car and hear a loud rattle. Most car owners assume the loud noise is because of a crack in the exhaust and ignore the sound until their next tune-up. These parts are expensive to replace, costing anywhere between $2,000 to $2,500, depending on the model you drive.
What cars are targeted for catalytic converter theft?
Most people assume car thieves target high-end and luxury vehicles. This is true to some extent. Car thieves prefer stealing more expensive cars as they are easier to flip and fetch them a good sum of money.
However, when it comes to catalytic converter thefts, thieves spare no one. The mechanics we spoke to said the most targeted cars for catalytic converter thefts are “regular” cars that common folk drive.
Between January and May 2021, car thieves stole almost 26,000 catalytic converters in the United States. This equates to 5200 thefts a month! And criminals aren’t just slipping underneath any old vehicle and ripping the catalytic converter out before fleeing the sight. According to analysts, it appears that thieves are intentionally targeting certain car models more than others.
The common consensus seems to be that the Prius, Tacoma, Lexus SUVs, and the Accord are some of the most targeted cars for catalytic converter theft. So if you own one of these, make sure your car is locked up safe and sound.
The most common factor thieves employ when deciding which car to target is the ease of detaching the catalytic converter from the exhaust system. And it seems the Toyota Prius is the most preferred vehicle for car thieves.
There are several reasons why thieves prefer the Prius, but the most important is that so many of them are on the road! This provides thieves with a lot of experience with the exhaust system, enabling them to disassemble the catalytic converter easily. But there’s something more that makes this Toyota such a tempting target for these criminals: it’s ecologically friendly!
The gasoline engine in the Toyota Prius is supplemented by an electric motor. Hence, it does not have to handle the same load as other gasoline engines. That means the catalytic converter does not have to work as hard. Therefore, it lasts longer and contains more precious metals in the system.
Thieves target other Toyota models, including high-riding SUVs such as the 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra. Since these vehicles sit high off the ground, it’s easy to slip underneath and steal the catalytic converter. What’s more, the engine in these SUVs is tuned to offer the best fuel efficiency possible to save the catalytic converter. And that means there’s more precious metal inside them.
Lexus SUVs and Honda models such as the Element and the Accord are some of the other favorites.
How to stop thieves from stealing your catalytic converter
You can do several things to reduce the chances of your thieves stealing your car’s catalytic converter. To begin with, park your car in a secure location whenever you leave it unattended for a lengthy period.
If you’re going to be parking overnight, try to park in a garage whenever possible. If that isn’t an option, make sure the area is well-lit and close to your home.
There’s been a spike in catalytic converter thefts from cars parked at airport parking lots. The best way to keep your car safe while you jet off to your holiday destination is to book an offsite parking space through the Way.com app. Click here to book a safe and secure parking spot.
Finally, the best way to safeguard your car is to carry car insurance that is current and valid. There’s more info on this on our blog – Does insurance cover catalytic converter theft? Tap the banner below to obtain free car insurance quotes from the country’s top insurance provider in under 10 minutes!