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Catalytic Converters: Why Thieves Steal Them and How You Can Protect Yours

Your catalytic converter is a crucial component of your exhaust system. Located in the exhaust pipe near the manifold, the catalytic converter cleans the exhaust fumes that are emitted from the car out into the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, law enforcement has noted a significant increase in the amount of catalytic converters being stolen from vehicles over the past few years.

While there are may valuable commodities that people can easily steal and sell, catalytic converters are especially valuable because they contain precious metals. However, there is no need to panic. By taking certain precautions, you can reduce the risk of having your vehicle’s catalytic converter stolen.

Why Catalytic Converters Get Stolen

Copper and other metals have always been a hot commodity for thieves and catalytic converters are no exception. This is because they contain highly valuable metals such as palladium, rhodium, and platinum.

Thieves can remove a catalytic converter in less than two minutes, making it easy to steal even in broad daylight. The only tool required is either a wrench to remove the bolts, or a reciprocating saw to remove converters that are welded onto the vehicle.

The valuable metals, combined with a lack of identifying markings, and how easy they are to steal has fuelled the increase in catalytic converter thefts in recent years.

Once stolen, thieves will take the catalytic converters to metal recyclers and scrappers, who will pay between $50 to $500 for each one. Catalytic converters are typically stolen from vehicles parked in driveways, at malls or stores, or in parking garages.

Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention

Luckily there are a few different options that will help prevent this type of theft:

1. Park in Well Lit Areas

Even though catalytic converters are easy to steal, thieves still need to transport their equipment to the vehicle and away from it pretty quickly.

Parking in a well lit and populated area will act a deterrent to would-be thieves who do not want to risk getting caught.

2. Install a Car Alarm

Car alarms will not only lower your insurance premiums, they can also help decrease the risk of any sort of vehicle theft. If you live in an area where catalytic converter thefts are on the rise, then you will definitely want to invest in one of these systems.

3. Store Your Car in a Garage

While many people allow their garages to become a convenient storage space, parking your car inside is one major step you can take in order to limit the risk of catalytic converter theft. Thieves seek out easy targets. Parking inside ads an extra obstacle that is not worth the extra time and effort. If converter thefts are on the rise in your neighbourhood, it’s a good time to start parking your vehicle inside.

4. Block Access to the Underside

In order to steal a catalytic converter, thieves need to be able to slide under your vehicle and use a wrench or cutting tool to remove the box from the surrounding pipes.

Parking your vehicle close to fences, walls, or curbs, makes this task much more difficult for them.

5. Install a Catalytic Converter Lock or Clamp

There are a number of different converter-specific security options that can be installed on your vehicle.

Converter locks are solid pieces of metal designed to lock around the catalytic converter, attaching it to the vehicle more securely and creating an additional barrier for thieves.  Converter clamp resemble cages that “clamp” the converter to the exhaust pipes. They allow for converters of all shapes and sizes to be locked to the vehicle’s chassis up to seven times.  Not sure which option is best for your vehicle? Talk to our exhaust experts!

While these options are not a 100% guarantee, they certainly make it more difficult for thieves to access your catalytic converter. Thieves are looking for an easy solution. Having an additional layer of security may be enough to send them on their way.

How Can I Tell if My Catalytic Converter Has Been Stolen?

If your catalytic converter is missing, you’ll notice a loud rumbling or roaring sound as soon as you turn on your vehicle. The sound will also get louder as you hit the gas. Because the exhaust cannot work properly with a converter, you’ll notice the vehicle driving rougher than usual and sputters when you change speed.

To visually inspect whether or not your converter has been removed, look underneath the back of your vehicle. The catalytic converter is the round canister that connects two pieces of piping in the exhaust. If you see a gaping space in the middle of your exhaust – your converter is missing. You’ll likely also notice signs of cuts where the piping was removed.

What To Do if Your Catalytic Converter is Stolen

Your first step after discovering that your catalytic converter is missing is to file a report with the police and notify local scrap yards of the theft.

While you can technically drive your car without a catalytic converter, it is highly recommended that you have it replaced in order to ensure optimal performance of your vehicle as well as maintain power and fuel economy.

Our team at Park Muffler provides expert exhaust services to the Edmonton area and would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about catalytic converters and theft prevention. Contact us today!


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