It takes less than two minutes for a thief with a reciprocating saw to crawl under your vehicle and make the two or three cuts required to steal your catalytic converter. Less than two minutes time to take a part they will salvage for $200 and you’ll need to replace it at a cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000.
What is a catalytic converter? It is part of the exhaust system that helps reduce airborne pollutants that could harm people as well as the environment, turning 90% of harmful emissions into less harmful gases. A well-maintained catalytic converter improves the efficiency of a car, directly affecting its overall health and performance.
Can a car run without it? Typically, yes. It may throw an engine fault code as it looks for the catalyst to filter before reaching the rear oxygen sensor present in the exhaust system to adjust the fuel or air-to-fuel ratio.
Why do thieves steal catalytic converters? Catalytic converters contain small amounts of precious metals that can be sold to unscrupulous scrap dealers. Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium line an area of the system. There is usually less than 3 to 5 grams of these metals per converter. Today’s market value for an ounce of these metals (Rhodium $28,425.00, Palladium $2,645.00. Platinum $1,178.75) makes it enticing for those willing to take the risk.
So what can you do to help protect yourself from a catalytic converter thief?
- Park carefully. Make it as difficult as possible for someone to get under your vehicle. Well-lit areas can help deter as well. Park your vehicle inside if possible.
- Do not leave your vehicle in unattended lots for long periods of time.
- Have your vehicle identification number (VIN) etched, engraved, or written on your catalytic converter to alert scrap dealers the unit may be stolen. This could also help local authorities if the thief is caught.
- Consider having the unit welded or permanently secured to the vehicle frame.
- Install an under-carriage guard plate. This metal plate covers the entire catalytic converter area practically eliminating access to the unit.
The goal is to make it as difficult as possible for a thief to quickly steal your catalytic converter. If they look under their vehicle and see one of these deterrents, they are more likely to move on to an easier target.
The IMT Loss Control Department has resources available to help our agents and policyholders in their efforts to reduce exposures and injuries while promoting safety at the workplace and in the home. We have a host of online, streaming and on-demand tools at our disposal to consult and work with you. Please contact our office if you think could benefit from additional information or education and training materials.