What's the one thing you would expect car burglars to steal when they break into your car? The car stereo, a cell phone, or that loose change you keep in the ashtray? All of these things may be, but would you think they would steal your catalytic converter?
Catalytic converter thefts are taking place because the converters contain several types of recyclable materials that can be easily “scrapped” for a quick profit. Thefts of catalytic converters increase each time the cost of scrap metal, particularly platinum, increases. Houston and surrounding areas have seen an increase in the number of reported catalytic converter thefts.
Your vehicle's catalytic converter is a device used to reduce the toxicity of emissions from an internal combustion engine. Catalytic converters have been required by law on every motor vehicle operated in the United States since 1975. It is attached to your exhaust system and is located underneath your car. Catalytic converters contain expensive precious metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium.
Catalytic converter thieves generally target high profile vehicles like trucks or SUV’s because the higher ground clearance allows for easier access underneath the vehicle. However, sports cars and sedans are not immune to converter theft.
The thief may get $50 to $200 for each catalytic converter while repairs can easily reach $1,000 per automobile. Imagine if you are a small business owner whose fleet of trucks gets hit by catalytic thieves.
So what can you do to protect your vehicle? Below are five prevention tips that can reduce your risk.
- Park in areas where your vehicle will most easily be seen by passers-by. For example, park under lights after dark or near windows at a business. Park near security cameras, if possible.
- Park defensively. Park high profile vehicles so they are surrounded by low ground clearance vehicles. This may deter thieves by making it harder for them to access the most vulnerable targets.
- If your catalytic converter is a “bolt on” model, you can have the bolts welded shut and have extra metal welded to the exhaust system.
- Install a catalytic converter protection device that will clamp around the converter.
- Etch your converter with your vehicle’s license plate number in several different locations. This will help police track your property if it is stolen. If your converter is stolen, file a police report immediately after the theft is discovered.