Skip to main content

Catalytic converter theft has been on the rise, and it seems that it will not stop any time soon. There are simple car safety measures that owners can take to reduce their chances of becoming victims of theft. However, some owners are comfortable with more extreme methods.

Catalytic converter theft interrupted when vehicle owner shoots thief

CBS News Los Angeles reported that in Exposition Park, Los Angeles, an attempted catalytic converter theft was stopped when the thief was shot and wounded when the vehicle owner caught him.

The vehicle owner spotted the thief under his car. When the thief stood up holding an “unknown object,” the vehicle owner drew a gun and fired on the suspect. It is possible that the vehicle owner mistook the catalytic converter being held by the suspect as a weapon.

After being shot, the thief fled the scene but was eventually found by police officers and taken to a hospital. The suspect remains in stable condition.

Why are catalytic converters stolen?

A catalytic converter is a device that is either bolted or welded into a car’s exhaust system that cleans the emissions that come from the engine.

The engine emissions are “catalyzed” by metals inside the catalytic converter and are rendered inert. Clean air laws require all modern vehicles to have catalytic converters from the factory.

Catalytic converters are a target for thieves because they use precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, and palladium as catalysts to clean engine emissions.

Those metals are highly valuable and the leading cause of catalytic converter theft. Thieves will melt down and separate the precious metals to sell them.

One catalytic converter does not contain large amounts of precious metals, but a thief can steal several catalytic converters in one night, which quickly adds up.

In some instances, a thief armed with cordless power tools can slip underneath a car and steal the catalytic converter in less than a few minutes.

How to protect against catalytic converter theft

Technician engraving a catalytic converter to prevent catalytic converter theft
Deputy engraving catalytic converter | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Catalytic Converters Stolen From Fleet of School Buses

Being a victim of catalytic converter theft can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful. However, there are steps you can take that might protect your car from being hit.

Here are a few ways you can protect against catalytic converter theft:

  • Etch your license plate number onto your catalytic converter.
  • Park in well-lit or high visibility areas.
  • Install a catalytic converter security plate or other anti-theft devices.

There is no 100% guaranteed way to stop a thief from stealing a catalytic converter if they really want it. However, thieves prefer targets that are easily and quickly accessible.

If a thief has to work harder to steal your catalytic converter, they will likely just move on to an easier target. These steps just may prevent your car from being