Stopping catalytic converter theft has become an increasing part of our job at the Pro-Vigil live video surveillance headquarters. We’d like to put some of our crime fighting expertise to work for you. We put together this article to give you a brief overview of catalytic converter theft and then suggest 9 deterrents. Stopping catalytic converter theft is possible if you educate yourself and exercise proactive vigilance.

4 Quick Facts About Catalytic Converter Theft:
>> Catalytic converters sell for ~$40-$200 each.
>> They cost ~$1000 to replace.
>> CC thieves are known to strike in broad daylight, in busy areas.
>> SUVs and other vehicles with high clearance are especially vulnerable.

What Makes a Catalytic Converter so Valuable?
There are three types of metals that help the catalytic converter remove toxins from the vehicles’ emissions: platinum, palladium and rhodium. The prices of these already valuable metals has shot up hundreds of dollars an ounce in recent years. It’s the tiny amounts of these metals on the screens inside the catalytic converter that makes them so valuable.

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Tools of the Catalytic Converter Thief:
Stealing a catalytic converter takes either a wrench or a reciprocating saw. In some cases we’ve seen thieves using mechanics dollies to slide under vehicles more easily. We’ve heard of, but not verified, thieves attaching chains to converters and “hauling” the converter out with a truck.

How Long it Takes to Steal One:
About 3 minutes. That’s to either unbolt it or use the reciprocating saw to cut it out. Good thieves are even faster.

How Catalytic Converter Thieves Work:
The occasional or “opportunity” catalytic converter thieves go prowling when their drugs wear off. They look for easy steals – SUVs are favorite targets. Toyota SUVs especially because their catalytic converters are only bolted on. Sometimes they even follow cars and wait for them to park. These are often the ones who strike non-business targets and they go on sprees of theft that last several hours or sometimes days.

The more organized catalytic converter thieves look for larger scores. They attack car dealership lots, the parking lots at auto repair shops, auto fleet parking locations, and poorly attended parking lots. They are better equipped, faster, and work as teams to make larger scores. These are the crews more likely to steal from businesses and larger organizations with higher concentrations of vehicles.

9 Ways to Deter Catalytic Converter Theft:

1) Defensive Parking
If you have a fleet of vehicles block the high-clearance vehicles with your low clearance vehicles. The goal here is obstructing access underneath the vehicle. At the very least you want to slow the thieves down as much as possible so that your other security measures have time to effectively respond.

2) Effective Security Lighting
Lighting is vital to reducing catalytic converter theft. Though the opportunity thieves are getting bold enough to strike in busy areas in broad daylight, the more organized thieves won’t be so brazen. They are more professional and bit more risk averse. Good security lighting makes your vehicles visible to the street without creating glare.

3) Live Video Surveillance
For some businesses it will make sense to install video cameras and employ live surveillance specialists to monitor for catalytic converter theft. If your live surveillance specialists are authorized to call the police on your behalf you can stop catalytic converter theft before it happens, potentially saving yourself the cost of damage to your vehicles.

4) Monitor Your Local News
The less organized opportunity thieves fall into quickly recognizable patterns in local areas. Monitor your local news using Google alerts. Monitor terms like [“your city/region” catalytic converter]. This will give you an idea of when there are catalytic converter thieves in high activity in your area.

5) Spread Community Awareness
If you hear about catalytic converter theft through Google alerts or even suffer the theft of a catalytic converter from your vehicle then consider getting the word out in some way to others in your area. The opportunity catalytic converter thieves often strike locally and repeatedly in their crime spree. Call your friends and associates in the area, knock on the doors of your neighbors and post fliers. Even send people this article – there will be something in it that will save them the cost of a repair.

6) Fencing Around Your Vehicles
Fencing will deter the occasional/opportunistic catalytic thieves and it will slow down the more organized thieves so that your other security measures such as live video surveillance can respond. We wrote at length about security fencing for construction sites, which has some great tips for effective security fencing in general.

7) Welded Bolts
If your catalytic converters are “bolt on” you can have the bolts welded shut. This is only a deterrent to the lowest grade of catalytic converter thief though – the one who works only with a wrench. Still, in some cases it might be enough of a deterrent to help prevent a theft.

8) Catalytic Converter Protective Sleeves
Protective coverings for your catalytic converter, such as the device known as the “Catclamp,” can deter thieves as well. The Catclamp and competitor Catcuff makes it much more difficult for the reciprocal saw wielding thief to steal your converter. They are somewhat pricey though, and if you’re operating a fleet of vehicles or an auto dealership it won’t be cost effective. They are great for owners of one or two cars.

9) ID# Etching
Etching your converter with a serial number will help the police to track your converter after it’s stolen. This will not protect you from theft, but it could help to catch the thieves preying on your neighborhood’s vehicles.

Other Security Resources:
Stop Diesel Theft: 6 Ways to Prevent Diesel Fuel Thieves
3 Types of Auto Dealership Thieves + 10 Ways to Stop Them
Copper Theft Combat: The Top 7 Ways to Stop Copper Thieves
Reducing Employee-Driven Job Site Theft
9 Ways to Stop Construction Theft During Holidays and Vacations

We hope this article helps you to save the loss of time and money that comes from the criminal acts of others. If you have any questions about stopping catalytic converter theft at your business or organization please contact us at or by phone (866) 616-1318.

9 Responses to “Catalytic Converter Theft + 9 Ways to Stop It”

  1. Daniel says:

    Thanks for putting this great article up!

    Unfortunately, no matter how “safe” you play it, aside from locking your car up in your garage and never leaving your house for the rest of your life, there will always be a chance of this happening to your vehicle in your day-to-day life.

    Getting groceries? Going out for a movie? Going out to eat? Working?

    I just had my cat stolen off my 2002 Toyota Tacoma truck last Friday, in broad daylight, at the parking lot right outside my job (I’m a city employee here in Cerritos, CA). We’re talking less than a hundred ft. from where I’m *physically* sitting, between the hours of 9am and 2pm! Effing unbelievable.

    Because of these douchebags, I did not have a vehicle for the entire weekend, I’m out at least a few hundred dollars, and I have to wait until tomorrow morning (Tuesday) to have it replaced at a local muffler shop! My insurance wouldn’t even cover it (they would have if the whole damn truck was stolen though… of course)!

    I really do hope the law starts coming down on these scrap metal dealers accepting these stolen goods, as I believe putting a bit of pressure on them will help to deter these thieves and send a message that people aren’t taking this lightly.

  2. […] your driveway? Here’s a few things I found that you may be interested in: American Welding, Inc. Catalytic Converter Theft + 9 Ways to Stop Catalytic Converter Thieves | Security Surveillance Hope this […]

  3. CatClamp says:

    The CatClamp (Patent-Pending), created by American Welding Inc, places a catalytic converter in a theft-proof cage made of aircraft cable. That’s a heavy duty solution, and only carries a price tag of around $150. Compare that to a $2000 repair bill for having your catalytic converter stolen. You can reach CatClamp at 419.478.1313 or on the web at

  4. I just had my cat stolen from my fiat van outside my house, ten feet from my bedroom window under cctv cameras. My dogs usually bark when they hear the camera alarm but did’nt on this occasion.Cost,£800 and I just know they’re coming back for the replacement at the weekend.Gonna try welding plus anti vandel paint and if that dose not work, I’m going to wire it to the mains.

  5. Bobbie says:

    This was a very good article – thank you. My daughter’s “cat” was sawed off her 2000 Toyota 4-runner 9/3/10 Friday afternoon while she was in the nail salon for 30 minutes, car parked out front, on busy street, across from the Dallas rail station where DART police are coming & going – unbelievable!

  6. Patty says:

    Just had my cat converter stolen from a 14-year-old Toyota Tacoma parked in my mother’s 50+ year-old suburban neighborhood driveway. I had no idea this sort of thing was happening as I live in a small town in Alaska. It is extremely aggravating. I had been away for a month volunteering to build houses in New Orleans. Amazing how low people will go to avoid getting honest work–stealing from regular working people.

  7. Elaine says:

    Victim – Toyota 4-Runner, last night at Casino Arizona. Heavy surveillance and security. Merry Christmas. By the way idiots, I was due for a new one. What comes around, goes around.

  8. Shelly says:

    I had my cat converter stolen on the night of 12/28/11 thru morning of 12/29/11 in a Fairfield Inn Hotel in Mesquite, TX located a 4020 Towne Crossing (near Town East Loop and 635). I checked into the hotel and never moved my vehicle, so I know this is where it happened. I was in town visiting; I live 3 hours away from the Dallas area. I had to miss a day of work trying to get the car repaired. This is a terrible crime and for such a low amount money! Police, please catch these thieves!

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In December 2014, Pro-Vigil saved its customers $69,768 in property crimes!