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  • Writer's pictureBella O

Why Thieves Steal Catalytic Converters and How to Protect Yours

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks crimes reported to insurance companies, the number of reported catalytic converter thefts increased from roughly 1,300 in 2018 to more than 52,000 in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available.

So, what makes a car so attractive to thieves? Is it the car itself or the belongings that lay within? Well, it is up to the thief what they want. Some will outright try to steal a car, while others will break through the window to steal whatever is inside. However, if you aren't aware, one part of the car is super attractive to thieves: the exhaust system, specifically the catalytic converter.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released new theft figures to FOX5 news. Police said there were 693 reported catalytic converter thefts from January 1 to May 31 of 2021. However, the figure jumped to 1180 during the same time this year. The department said it believes many more thefts go unreported.

The Toyota Prius is among the most commonly targeted vehicles, according to repair shops. Others are the Toyota Sequoia, the Honda CRV, the Honda Element and the Hyundai Tucson. But in the end, it’s any vehicle with enough clearance to crawl under.

You will find that when driving without your catalytic converter, it will sound like your vehicle is roaring—especially when starting or giving it gas.

Most comprehensive insurance plans cover catalytic converter theft. However, you must first pay a deductible. If you have only liability or collision coverage on your car, your insurance will not cover catalytic converter theft.

What's a Catalytic Converter?

In case you don't know, a catalytic converter is an exhaust after-treatment device that is designed to reduce the amount of pollution a car produces. The catalytic converter works by acting as a barrier for the engine to deal with dangerous byproducts. The catalytic converter does this by using a catalyzing agent, which is generally platinum and rhodium.

Not only is it used to protect the environment, but catalytic converters are also used to reduce the amount of CO 2 emitted. The catalytic converter also breaks down the HC, CO, and NOx (monoxide, oxygen, and nitrogen). These gases are commonly referred to as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides, which are emitted during combustion.

What Makes a Catalytic Converter so Attractive?

You may be wondering why a catalytic converter is so attractive to thieves and what they possibly want it for. Well, catalytic converters are made of platinum, which is generally a very expensive metal. This alone makes the catalytic converter a target for thieves, especially when people are unaware of its true value.

If a thief were to steal the catalytic converter, they could easily go sell it to a precious metal dealer and get a substantial amount in return.

How Do I Protect My Car's Catalytic Converter?

There are a couple of things you can do to protect your car's catalytic converter:

1. Etch Your Plate Number On It

The idea here is that if a thief were to see that number on it, they'd move on to an easier target. That's because, with the plate number on it, there's a much higher chance that the police will catch them, as it becomes identifiable to law enforcement.

2. Always Park in Lit and Secure Areas

If you park your car in a dark alleyway and the like, you're only asking for trouble. Thieves like to operate stealthily, so always park in areas that are well lit, such as near a storefront. Not only is the area there lit, but there are cameras there to catch anyone who might be carrying out criminal activities.

3. Set Up An Alarm or Camera

Some car alarm systems allow you to turn up sensitivity, and you can do that for yourself if you want the car to go off if it gets jostled around. However, keep in mind that any type of bump can cause the alarm to go off, which can be quite annoying.

As such, an alternative to this is installing motion-sensitive cameras. When the camera catches someone around your car trying to do something, it'll notify you of what's going on.


Car theft is a serious issue that occurs far too often. But, if you're careful and aware of how car thieves operate, you can avoid getting your car's catalytic converter, or worse, your whole car, stolen. As long as you park in lit and secure areas and take steps to protect your catalytic converter, you should be fine. Naturally, if you feel like something is out of the ordinary, keep your eyes peeled and report anything suspicious to the authorities!

Grease Monkey Garage is a family-owned business that offers affordable and honest automotive repairs that you can rely on and be proud of. We can offer great advice concerning protecting your catalytic converter or anything else concerning your vehicle.

Don't wait another minute, call Grease Monkey Garage today for experienced auto repair & maintenance services in Las Vegas & North Las Vegas at 702-478-7881 and in Henderson at 702-478-7027

Tony & Bella - Owners Grease Monkey Garage

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