Catalytic Converter Thefts – How to Prevent Them

Between 2019 and 2020, consumer research group Which? reported a 104% rise in catalytic converter theft across the UK.

In this post we’ll explore why thieves are targeting catalytic converters, and the ways in which you could protect yourself from catalytic converter theft.

What is the Purpose of a Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter is part of your car’s exhaust system. They use various metals to create chemical reactions that have the effect of “cleaning” your car’s emissions. These metals oxidise harmful carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions to create less harmful carbon dioxide and water vapour emissions. They also reduce the oxides in emissions of gases such as nitrogen, making them a little less lethal.

It’s largely thanks to catalytic converters that many modern and diesel cars are able to meet global emission standards.

Why Do People Steal Catalytic Converters?

Catalytic converters rely on precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium to treat your car’s emissions. When the price of these metals goes up, thieves are more likely to target catalytic converters for theft.

Also, stealing catalytic converters is a relatively straightforward process. So long as they have the right tools, thieves can remove a catalytic converter in a matter of minutes. It’s a lot less risky than breaking into or outright stealing a car, as the car’s owner won’t know they’ve been robbed until it’s far too late.

To understand just how daring thieves can be, a You Tube video shows Thieves were once caught on camera targeting a parked car in broad daylight, without even taking the trouble to park their own car first! Instead they idle in the middle of the road, holding up traffic. And on a London street, no less!

Not all catalytic converter thieves will be this bold, of course. But it illustrates just how easy it is for thieves to steal catalytic converters – and how hard it might be to prevent theft.

What Vans and Cars are Targeted for Catalytic Converter Thefts?

Motoring Research report that certain hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, the Honda Jazz Hybrid, and the Lexus RX, as particularly targeted for catalytic converter theft. Thieves may target greener cars because, as their emissions are cleaner to begin with, they’ll make less use of their catalytic converter. As such, the precious metals will be less corroded, and thus more valuable.

Beyond this, thieves seem to target cars and vans with high ground clearance. Why? Simply because it’s easier for thieves to slip under these cars and take what they want!

How Will I Know If My Catalytic Converter’s Been Stolen?

Just listen to your engine. It will sound a lot louder than usual. Your emissions might also look different, appearing darker or more noxious than usual.

If you drive without a catalytic converter, then your car probably won’t be meeting global emission standards. This effectively means that it’s illegal to drive your car. So if you have been a victim of catalytic converter theft, unfortunately you’ll have to get a new catalytic converter fitted before you can drive again.

Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention

There are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of catalytic converter theft:

  • Think about where you park. Some thieves will think nothing of stealing catalytic converters in broad daylight and on busy streets. But not all thieves are so brazen. You will probably deter a lot of thieves if you can park in a well-lit area, ideally with CCTV coverage. If you can park in a secure garage, even better. If you park on the street, avoid mounting the kerb, as this would make the underside of your car easier to access.
  • Secure the converter. You can buy special casings for converters that offer that extra layer of protection.
  • Mark the converter. Get a specialist catalytic converter marking kit. This kit lets you apply a permanent mark on the converter which will make it much harder for thieves to sell on. Even better, some kits let you register your converter on a database, which can help you track down your converter should thieves try to sell it to a scrap metal dealer. Finally, they contain stickers you can put in your car window. These give clear warnings to thieves that, if they try and steal your converter, they won’t get very far.

Can I Claim on My Insurance for Catalytic Converter Theft?

Yes, some insurers will let you make a claim for catalytic converter theft, which will help you cover the cost of getting a replacement fitted.

At Insure 2 Drive, we include catalytic converter theft cover as part of our comprehensive car and van insurance policies. Get in touch for a free quote.


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