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Catalytic converter theft is getting out of control. This issue is not new, but the pandemic and its many supply chain issues have made the exhaust cleaner far more valuable than in recent years. This added value translates to more theft and emboldened criminals. So, what can we do? Is there any way to protect yourself from catalytic converter theft

Catalytic converter cut open
Catalytic converter | Reuter Raymond/Sygma via Getty Images

Can you stop someone from stealing your catalytic converter?

Car alarms, insurance, and parking in well-lit areas are your first line of defense. However, these steps will only go so far. In many cases, catalytic converter (CC) theft has become so efficient and quick that these measures may not deter thieves. 

This crime is a frustrating one becuase, for many cars, thieves can slide under the car and cut the CC free in a matter of minutes. The risk is worth the reward when only two to three minutes can make the rapscallions a few grand per night. The worst part is, becuase CCs have gotten so valuable, replacing your stolen one could easily cost over a thousand dollars. 

The incentive to try and protect your CC is clear. So, what can we do? You can’t stop someone who wants to steal from you, but you can make it a lot harder. 

How to protect your car from thieves? 

Engraves car parts with ID number so it can't be sold.
Sheriff engraves catalytic converter with ID number | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

There are now several aftermarket parts that can help secure your CC from ne’er do wells. Car and Driver reports that Toyota Prius drivers are especially lucky in choosing these aftermarket parts. 

These are the top picks to help protect from someone stealing your catalytic converter: 

Universal Catalytic converter alarm

The beauty of this first product is that it is meant to fit loosely so that it can be truly universal, fitting on almost any car or truck. The alarm system is motion-based, so if your car is in “park” with the CC alarm set, the device will let out a holler if it gets so much as nudged in the wrong way. Statistics show car alarms aren’t overly effective, but something tells me, if someone isn’t expecting this alarm, it might startle them enough to leave. 

Catalytic converter lock

Car and Driver says the CatClamp MAXX claims to form a nearly unbreakable barrier around your cat converter with a 5/16-inch-thick stainless steel cable that fits around 1 3/4- to 3-inch exhaust pipes. Like the alarm system, this device is meant to fit almost any gas or diesel car or truck. 

If the ease and quickness of catalytic converter theft is part of the problem, making them harder and slower to steal seems like a nice solution. 

Catalytic converter shields 

There are multiple versions of this protective gear. However, this one is only a benefit to Prius owners, at least for now. Like the CC lock made of wires, the idea here is to slow down the burglars by obstructing the loot. 

The shield simply bolts over the catalytic converter area so no one’s Sawzall can get in there and wreak havoc. 

How much does it cost to replace a catalytic converter? 

Pile of catalytic converters
A massive bin of old catalytic converters | Zucchi Uwe/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The average price range for a catalytic converter is between $1,000-$2,500. This is a significant cost compared to most average maintenance or repairs. But that’s the cruelty of this crime; its prevalence is due to the same reason why protecting your CC is so important. 


$100,000 In Catalytic Converter Theft Spree Earns 1 Guy Fugitive Status