What Cars are Most Targeted for Catalytic Converter Theft?

Given that it takes seconds to saw off the piece from under the car, you can make some big bucks in a night if you’re a crook with a hacksaw. Are all cars potential victims of catalytic converter thieves?

If you own a parking lot or a garage, you already probably know that cars are targeted for catalytic converter theft. The incidents of these criminal events are on the rise. By the numbers, we’re seeing:

  • Catalytic converter theft in Dallas, Texas has gone up 20% over this time last year.
  • Las Vegas has seen an 87% increase in these thefts over last year.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota catalytic converter theft has risen by 38%.
  • Catalytic converter theft has exploded in Philadelphia by 172% from just one year ago.

Why are catalytic converters such big targets for thieves? What cars are most targeted for catalytic converter theft?  How can you, as a business owner, protect your customers from becoming a victim? We have answers that can help you stop catalytic converter theft.

Why Do Catalytic Converters Get Stolen?


Years ago, stereos were hot items for theft. Rims are always popular with thieves. Not to mention all the graduation presents you had laying in your backseat. For car owners today, though, it’s the catalytic converter that is a much more popular item to snag by criminals.

A catalytic converter can be stolen out from under a car in seconds. As soon as the car starts, the owner can hear how wrong their vehicle is without it. But what exactly is a catalytic converter?

The catalytic converter is part of your exhaust system. Its job is to remove nasty gases from the car’s exhaust before they are sent into the air you’re trying to breathe. The function of a catalytic converter is to protect the environment from the harmful compounds found in the exhaust of a car. This includes:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Nitrogen oxides

The catalytic converter is the catalyst to remove these harmful compounds from the air. That’s not why they’re stolen, though. Catalytic converters are made with some precious metals that can be sold for between $200 and $500 per piece to scrapyards. The converter is made of palladium, platinum, and rhodium, which are behind the catalyst to clean up your car exhaust. What’s the big deal about these metals? At about $19,000 per ounce, rhodium alone is worth ten times more than gold.

Given that it takes seconds to saw off the piece from under the car, you can make some big bucks in a night if you’re a crook with a hacksaw. Are all cars potential victims of catalytic converter thieves?

What Cars are Targeted for Catalytic Converter Theft?

catalytic converter theft

If a car was manufactured after 1974, it has a catalytic converter. But of this group of more modern vehicles, what cars are most targeted for catalytic theft? Consider these important points:

  • First, if the car is low to the ground, you might be safer. Chances are the thief will look for an SUV or a vehicle that they can easily scoot under. Customers owning SUVs like the 4Runner, Tacoma, Tundra, or a Lexus SUV are most vulnerable. However, if you’re in a dark, unprotected corner of a garage, a thief can jack up a car in less than 60-seconds.

  • Trucks and buses are of course, higher off the ground. Some of the larger vehicles in this category also have two catalytic converters.

  • With that said, the Toyota Prius is most often targeted, according to CarParts.com. Why? Because a hybrid vehicle doesn’t use gasoline power all of the time, so the catalytic converter is much more likely to be in better shape. All of the precious metals will still be in the converter unit. Now, here’s the really bad news; replacing the Prius catalytic converter costs about $5,000.

  • Other hybrids are also target for catalytic converter theft. This includes Honda, Lexus RX, and the Toyota Auris.

Parking lots and garages are tempting locations for this kind of theft to occur. Long-term parking is particularly vulnerable. Last summer, Fox News reported on dozens of catalytic converter thefts at Kansas City International Airport. Can you imagine walking out to your car after coming home from vacation to this? 

What Can We Do About Catalytic Converter Theft?

Catalytic Converter Theft CCTV Camera

The problem has grown so bad, last year 26 states introduced legislation to help stop catalytic converter theft. Ten states have passed laws so far, including:

  • Arizona
  • Indiana
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • West Virginia

Some of the laws enacted include requiring scrap metal dealers to maintain purchase records. Other states assume that if you have a catalytic converter with no proof of ownership, you’re in possession of a stolen part.

How Can You Help Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft on Your Property?

Modern Parking Surveillance Cameras

For business owners facing a rash of catalytic converter thefts on their properties can be downright embarrassing. Most parking garage and lots have disclaimers that patrons part at their own risk. If you suffer a rash of these thefts, though, and you don’t have the video security to at least pursue prosecution, then FindLaw suggests you still may be liable. They say, “Courts have issued conflicting decisions on the question of a parking garage owner’s liability or car damages or thefts.” No one wants their customers to suffer theft. How can your customers—and you—stop this crime in its tracks?

  • Some of your customers are undoubtedly installing protective devices on their vehicles to prevent a thief from cutting off the converter.

  • Some newer vehicles have vibration alarms that trigger from the sawing motion that comes taking off a catalytic converter.

  • You can support your patrons by making sure your parking areas are very well-lit.

  • Perimeter security can help keep trespassers off your lot.

  • You can support your customers by having the best video surveillance system for 24/7 eyes on their important property.

Video surveillance of your parking areas is a must-have security feature for your business. Video surveillance cameras are more sophisticated now. Modern security cameras can connect wirelessly to the internet for instant viewing of your cameras from any digital device. By using AI-enabled cameras you have a much more efficient and capable system over the old CCTV cameras. 

Worried about the rising incidences of catalytic converter theft? If you want to do more to protect your customers, call Pro-Vigil today.

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