Catalytic converter theft: is on the rise, and as we’ve seen in the news recently, criminals are becoming increasingly brazen, snatching catalytic converters from automobiles parked on their owners’ driveways in broad daylight.
Catalytic converters are installed in the majority of cars on UK roads. Since 1992, catalytic converters have been standard equipment on the majority of gasoline vehicles, and since 2001, on diesel vehicles.
What is a catalytic converter, and how does it work?
Your catalytic converter converts pollutants in your car’s exhaust into less dangerous gases, but it’s also a target for thieves.
People steal catalytic converters for a variety of reasons.
This is due to two basic causes. To begin with, stealing a catalytic converter is a pretty straightforward task requiring only a brazen disdain for the law and other people’s property, a jack, an angle grinder, and a few seconds of your time.
The majority of catalytic converters on current cars are positioned beneath the vehicle, near the exhaust, making them conveniently accessible to thieves. In a matter of minutes, you can lift to the back of the car and cut out the entire unit.
Due to their higher ground clearance, SUVs are more vulnerable. This implies the catalytic converter is easier to access, and these cat converters contain more precious metals due to the larger engines.
What is the value of a catalytic converter?
The second reason is that some of the precious metals included within your catalyst are more valuable than gold. A ceramic element coated in precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, and palladium is found inside a catalytic converter.
This is what draws thieves: a catalytic converter may easily fetch £500 on the illegal market.
Toyota has raised its head above the parapet, despite the fact that few manufacturers have acknowledged the problem of catalytic converter theft. The business said in a recent statement:
“We’re doing everything we can. We’ve shared police advice with customers, and we’ve developed and decreased the cost of a ‘Catloc’ device that can dissuade and complicate theft. Toyota teams in the United Kingdom and other countries are frantically looking for new technological solutions to discourage crooks.”
Toyota is collaborating with law enforcement and talking to the government about changing the law on scrap metal sales to make it more difficult for criminals to sell stolen catalysts for cash.
However, because these are illicit operations, Toyota’s options are constrained. Several police forces are taking action, and some, like Nottinghamshire, are launching public awareness campaigns. It is critical for anyone who has been a victim of this crime to contact their local police department as soon as possible.
Theft prevention for catalytic converters
Because developments in efficiency and technology mean that the latest generations of Toyota catalytic converters contain substantially lesser amounts of precious metals while yet performing just as well or even better, their value for recycling is relatively low, and they are not enticing to thieves.
It’s a severe problem, and while manufacturers are working to address it, it will take some time for these changes to trickle down to the automobiles you’re buying. There’s still a lot you can do to avoid becoming a victim, so keep reading for our top 10 recommendations on how to avoid having your catalytic converter stolen.
How to avoid having your catalytic converter stolen
Park to block access to the area beneath.
Thieves must slide under the car and use cutting tools to separate the box from the pipes surrounding it in order to steal the parts. This means that where you park your car is important. Parking near walls or fences can help, but keep in mind that you don’t want to block pedestrian access, particularly for wheelchair users.
Serial-numbered catalytic converters
Some garages will carve a unique serial number into your catalytic converter so that it may be easily identified in the event that it is stolen. You’ll also receive a window sticker indicating that your catalytic converter has been marked, which will deter criminals from targeting your vehicle.
Request that the bolts be welded shut by a garage.
If your catalytic converter is fastened on, you can request that the bolts be welded to make removal more difficult.
Devices that lock in around the converter can be purchased to make it more difficult to remove. Toyota has developed its own device, known as a Catalogue.
The Catalogue has over 45 unique fitments, so it should work with a wide range of models. The Catalogue is priced between £200 and £250 (depending on the model) and includes VAT and installation by a Toyota dealer.
While this isn’t a cheap solution, replacing a catalytic converter, including installation, can cost well over £1000. Hybrid vehicles (such as the Toyota Prius), which contain a larger amount of precious metals, are especially vulnerable. The Catalogue does not ensure theft avoidance, but it does make it more difficult to remove the cat converter.
Install a surveillance camera
Installing surveillance cameras (CCTV, Ring Doorbell, etc.) appears to be a no-brainer, and it is. Unfortunately, if you do not park in your driveway, this will be far more difficult to accomplish.
There are other choices for keeping an eye on your car while it’s parked, such as wildlife trail cameras, but if you can’t park off-street, it’s preferable to park in areas where CCTV filming is likely anyhow, such as well-lit, well-travelled streets.
It’s never been easier to keep a watch on your car, with the cost of CCTV systems decreasing and installation becoming a simple job (requiring no specialised services). It’s worth thinking about for overall peace of mind, not only for catalytic converter theft.
Place your car in well-lit places.
This is another one that has more to do with common sense and reducing the possibilities of committing a crime in general, rather than catalytic converter theft specifically.
Thieves are generally opportunistic, and the equipment required to cut out a cat converter is very heavy-duty, but once a car has been targeted, thieves typically wait for an opportunity to strike because the theft only takes a few minutes.
If you park in a well-lit place where people walk frequently, you’re less likely to return to find your catalytic converter has been pinched.
Install a security system
If you don’t have a car alarm and live in a location where cat converter thefts are on the rise (such as huge cities like London), it’s time to get one. The sound of the alarm should deter any would-be burglars.
Because the CatClamp ‘clamps’ to the exhaust pipes rather than the converter, it can protect converters of all sizes and shapes. This eliminates the possibility of the converter, heat shield, or oxygen sensors being damaged.
It may be locked to the vehicle’s chassis up to seven times, making it extremely impossible for a burglar in a hurry to take your catalytic converter. There are three options, starting at £99 for the CatClampEconomy and going up to £350 for the CatClamp MAXX3.
Keep your vehicle off the road.
This alternative isn’t for everyone, but if you have access to a garage, it makes sense to park your car there, especially if you live or work in an area where catalytic converter theft is widespread.
If you don’t have access to a garage, try parking beside other vehicles or in authorised parking locations, such as car parks, multi-story buildings, and so on.
Access to the underbelly of fleets should be restricted.
If you have a small fleet, try parking lower vehicles nearby to block access to vehicles with high ground clearance. Keep an eye out for anyone who appears to be working beneath surrounding cars; they could be scouting out their next target vehicle.