Catalytic Converter Theft and Ways to Protect Yourself

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Picture of By <span>Aren Mirzaian</span>
By Aren Mirzaian

Updated on July 17, 2023

Visit author page
Picture of By <span>Aren Mirzaian</span>
By Aren Mirzaian

Updated July 17, 2023

Visit author page

4 minute read

Article Contents
Inside of a car and car with an open hood

Owning a vehicle often comes hand in hand with learning about different parts of your car and how they work. It also may require you to be aware about any potential news associated with cars that could affect your wallet. The Ontario police have been reporting an increase in Catalytic Converter thefts this year in Ontario. Stay tuned and keep reading if you’re unfamiliar with this device or how it works in your car. This blog post will teach you what a Catalytic Converter is, why it’s valuable, and how you can protect your car from it being stolen.

What is a catalytic converter?

The catalytic converter is one of the most important components for controlling polluting gas emissions from combustion produced by engines. Its main function is to transform the polluting gases resulting from the burning of fuel into other gases that are more eco-friendly to the environment. This item is located under the vehicle, close to the exhaust system piping, right next to the oxygen sensor.

Why Do Thieves Steal Catalytic Converters?

Unless you’re a mechanical engineer, you probably don’t know why this particular car part can be so valuable to thieves. Here are three reasons: 

The metal of which it is made

Catalytic converter theft is increasing because it contains palladium, platinum and chrome; all of which can be considered  valuable metals on the black market. The thieves are dedicated to extracting the metals from the converters and then selling them to people who melt them down and resell them at a higher price. It has become one of the favourite auto parts for thieves to steal. They sell it for about $300, but victims end up paying up to $3,000 to replace it.

The ease of theft

You may wonder how a person can steal this car part. Well, catalytic converters are stolen quickly and easily. Typically thieves wait until dark, so no one can see them. Then they crawl under the cars and cut the tubes a catalytic converter is attached to, then pull it off and voila.

The inability to track the stolen part

Moreover, most converters do not have a marking or a number to identify which car it belongs to. For this reason, even when police manage to recover it, it is almost impossible to identify the car to which it belongs. This flaw also makes it easier for thieves to sell converters on the black market.

What Cars are More Likely to be Targeted for Catalytic Converter Theft?

The increase in the theft of these elements is a trend that has been taking place in the last year throughout North America. In Ontario specifically, a large number of cases have been reported in the Halton region where thirty catalytic converters were stolen within six weeks in the first quarter of 2022. The vehicles that are, unfortunately, most likely to be targeted are those that sit higher off the ground, such as SUVs or trucks. The thieves’ most popular car models include:

  • Ford Serie F
  • Accord Honda
  • Jeep Patriot
  • Ford Econoline/Serie E
  • Chevrolet Silverado
  • Chevrolet 2 Equinox
  • Honda CR-V
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota Prius

Also, remember that if you live in an area with high car theft or vandalism claims, this may also affect your insurance rates & premiums.

How to identify If Your Catalytic Converter has been Removed?

When you drive a car often, it’s easy to tell when something isn’t right. The quickest way to identify that your catalytic converter has been stolen is by the noise it makes when you turn it on. Your vehicle’s engine will give off a loud roaring sound which will get louder as you accelerate. Another way to know is by the excess smoke expelled from the exhaust pipe and even the bad smell it causes. Other symptoms that can help you detect it include the loss of power and engine overheating.

Once you detect something is wrong with your car, the best way to be 100% sure is to go underneath the vehicle and check if there is a rectangular hole in your exhaust with some signs of cuts and damage around it.

catalytic converter infographic

How Can I Protect My Vehicle From Catalytic Converter Theft?

Three ways to protect your car from catalytic converter theft are under your control. Keep in mind that these recommendations will not prevent you from becoming the next victim, but they will greatly reduce the chances of this happening.

Secure parking

Although it seems like a common sense recommendation, it is not so much in reality. Vandals often take advantage of the dark to commit this crime, so finding safe, well-lit areas to park your car is important. Also, consider parking inside the garage or near a wall or door so that they cannot squeeze under the vehicle.

Engrave your car’s VIN

The authorities recommend recording on the catalytic converter either your license plate number or your vehicle’s identification number, known as a VIN.

In addition to helping authorities track down stolen parts and find the owners, this practice can drastically limit a thief’s options for selling this part.

Increase the alarm sensitivity

Most car alarms can be set to increase their sensitivity. This way, when the thief tries to get under or manipulate any part of your car, the alarm will go off, instantly warning you. You can refer to the manual to learn how to set it up.

Install a protection device

Another option is to place video surveillance outside your home and ensure your car is always parked in an area captured by the cameras. This can also deter a thief from stealing the converter.

Does My Car Insurance Cover Catalytic Converter Theft?

According to the latest Insurance Bureau of Canada reports, claims for catalytic converter theft in Ontario range from $500 to $3,000. In order to relieve your wallet in case theft happens to you, it is important to have a comprehensive car insurance policy. The comprehensive insurance policy covers costs in case of vehicle theft or parts of it, it also covers damage caused by external agents that are not under your control, such as vandalism, weather or animals. Many people believe that mandatory liability insurance can cover this type of incident, but the truth is that only comprehensive coverage will save you from paying a fortune.

It is always important to compare comprehensive insurance rates and make sure that this peril is included in your policy. With MyChoice, you can quickly compare the quotes of all the insurance companies and choose the one that best suits your needs.

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