How to Protect Catalytic Converters from Theft on Your Lot

The catalytic converter is one of the most vulnerable parts of a parked car, especially on a dealership lot. How can you protect it?

One of the most commonly stolen car parts on any lot is the catalytic converter. There were more than 25,000 incidents of theft between 2008 and 2015 alone. And over the past year, many cities have seen the number of catalytic converter thefts roughly triple. The New York Times reported on this little piece of gold found within most traditional gas-powered cars and how thieves are targeting this equipment for theft.

Why? We aren’t being cute when we call this metal a little piece of gold. In fact, this article states that catalytic converters contain palladium, which costs 12 times more than gold.  A dealership or parking lot filled with cars is a literal goldmine for determined thieves. What can your business do to protect itself from these losses?

Why are Catalytic Converters the Most Commonly Stolen Car Parts?


Palladium exploded to $2,875 an ounce in 2020. Rhodium, another metal contained in the catalytic converter, went up to $21,900 an ounce in 2021. Like we mentioned earlier, that’s about 12 times the price of gold.

From a thief’s perspective, catalytic converters are an easy steal. These devices can be quickly sawed off with a pipe saw from under the belly of a car. Most thieves then sell the parts to recycling centers that extract the metals. Some of the cities experiencing a sharp uptick in catalytic converter theft include:

  • St. Louis, reporting an eightfold increase in theft cases between 2019 to 2020.
  • Lexington, South Carolina, with 114 incidents in six months last year, triple from the prior year.
  • Wichita, Kansas cases tripled in 2020, and in January 2021 they experienced another uptick.

Considering each replacement can cost $1,000 or more, business owners are understandably concerned.

While the catalytic converter on a commercial car can fetch a good deal of cash, RVs make for an even bigger cash payout. After all, larger vehicles have bigger parts. That means bigger payouts for the criminal. Local RV dealerships are seeing an increase in these crimes, with some businesses being hit repeatedly over time. 

With hundreds of new vehicles on a sprawling lot, these businesses make a tempting target. 

Unlike a car owner, who will discover the theft quickly, a dealership has dozens of cars that don’t get turned on every day, so it’s all the more critical to prevent.

However, once a criminal is left unsupervised on your lot, there are tons of other tempting targets for theft. Batteries, wheels, tailgates, and even valve stem caps are all available for the picking. Unlike these, however, a thief can remain hidden under a car when stealing the converter, which is exactly why prevention is key to stopping this crime and protecting your catalytic converters from theft.. 

Top Three Ways To Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

catalytic converter theft

Sprawling auto lots have a lot of ground to cover. Parking garages have hidden nooks and crannies that make it easier for thieves to steal car parts. The top three ways to protect these businesses from any kind of theft, vandalism, or other unwanted crime include:

  • Perimeter controls to observe and deter trespassers.

  • Surveillance monitoring to track behaviors and even warn off criminals.

  • Virtual guard services to oversee the entire facility 24/7/365.

See How Simple It Can Be To Secure Your Business.

Perimeter Controls (Physical Barriers & Lighting)

Protecting the parking lots and external areas of a business begins with perimeter fencing and bright lights. Unfortunately, fencing can be cut or scaled, so it’s usually combined with other deterrents for perimeter protection. 

Criminals prefer to work in the dark, so lighting can be combined with fencing to illuminate what they prefer to be hidden. Smaller dealerships may lack the budget to install full fencing. Even the rear lots of big dealerships may lack these security protocols. However, adding lighting to the lot can still help deter thieves. You don’t need big and expensive lights to do this. After a quick trip to the hardware store you’ll find many motion light options for less than $100.

Surveillance Monitoring


Today, the best and most cost-effective tool for preventing crime is the installation of video cameras to monitor your lot. While traditional CCTV cameras can record crime for after-the-fact prosecution, modern security cameras can do much more.

This equipment usually comes with visual deterrents like bright, flashing lights to warn off intruders, and loud pre-recorded audio deterrents that inform them they’ve been seen and the authorities are being called. These two elements are mixed together with artificial intelligence, automating all the responses when it detects an intruder on the property. 

This equipment is an important part of any dealership or lot’s security strategy, just like locking away car keys when you leave. Today’s cameras are IP-connected to the cloud and go far beyond the grainy CCTV footage you’ve seen in the past. Modern video surveillance uses real-time data analytics to notify you or your security team immediately that something is wrong. They can record information into the cloud and store it indefinitely. These tools even have night vision surveillance so that a monitoring team can continue watching your property long after you’ve gone to sleep.

Virtual Guard Services

Parking Lot Security with Virtual Guards

Many facilities make use of on-site guards who patrol their acres of merchandise. The problem is that these guards cannot watch the entire lot. Experienced thieves will monitor on-site guards’s activities and routines to increase their chances of not being spotted during the heist. 

So how would a virtual security guard be any different? These remote guards use the bank of cameras to monitor the entire property simultaneously. They are your eyes in the sky, and when coupled with best-in-class AI cameras, these guards can help deter criminal activity 24/7/365. The virtual security guard combines human intelligence with modern technologies to maximize your security deterrence efforts.

These guard services are typically much less costly than an on-site presence. It also reduces the liability to your business of having someone physically in your business after hours.

Catalytic converter theft is not new, but has exploded over the past few years. Smart businesses seeking to increase their response and mitigate their risk turn to Pro-Vigil. We are the nation’s leading live video surveillance company that protects what matters. Click here to chat with us.

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