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Catalytic Converters: An Ideal Choice For Thieves!

People have been becoming experts in stealing catalytic converters from cars, trucks, and buses. The reason is – cash for catalytic converters! The thieves often see value in the precious metals used to make the car parts.

Two school districts in New Jersey alone have reported catalytic converter thefts from school buses not long after dealing with the case of remnants of Tropical Storm Ida. Here’s what you need to know about why potential thieves are fond of these car parts and how you can avoid having your car parts stolen.

Get Started With a Catalytic Converter!

An essential component comprising the vehicle’s exhaust system, the catalytic converter uses a chemical reaction to convert harmful engine exhaust pollutants into less harmful to the environment. Most “bad” hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides in the exhaust convert into “less bad” carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor. Catalytic converters first appeared in many automobiles in the mid-1970s and quickly became almost universally used.

Catalytic converters, which come in various shapes and sizes, are typically the size of a loaf of bread (sometimes a flattened loaf) and are located in the exhaust system between the engine and the muffler. Because the converter requires high heat to function, you can find it located as close to the engine as possible. Sometimes a car has more than one converter.

Why Are they Stolen?

Thieves mainly target catalytic converters for financial reasons. They contain three metals that aid in the chemical reaction that reduces the toxicity of exhaust pollutants: platinum, palladium, and rhodium. These metals’ prices have risen dramatically in the early twenty-first century.

Platinum fell from an average price of around $530 per ounce in 2001 to approximately $1,100 in 2021, after reaching a high of $1,700 in 2011. Palladium’s average price per ounce increased from $600 in 2001 to nearly $2,400 in 2021.

However, rhodium has been the most volatile. After averaging around $1,600 per ounce in 2001, it jumped to approximately $18,000 in 2021, with a high of nearly $26,000 that year. On the other hand, Gold increased sixfold from around $300 per ounce in 2001 to around $1,800 in 2021.

When the prices of a converter’s three valuable metals rise, the converter’s cost increases — as do the values of converters as cash for scrap metal because the metals can be recovered and sold.

“What they’re doing is stealing the platinum and rhodium from them,” said Aaron Harker, owner of an exhaust shop. “You can turn around and sell it in the junkyard and make money.”

Harker went on to say that a would-be thief can steal a catalytic converter from a car’s underbelly in 5-to-10 minutes. Because the process is so quiet and quick, most people don’t realize their catalytic converters have been stolen until they start their cars and hear a loud rattle.

As a result, junkyards are actively collecting catalytic converters, and some companies have sprung up to buy converters sent to them. While the price of a given converter varies greatly, some figures seen in advertisements from “mail-them-to-us” companies range from around $140 to a whopping $1,500. Because of their increasing value, thieves steal catalytic converters, often cutting them out from under-parked cars on the street.

How Can I Keep My Car Safe From Catalytic Converter Theft?

You can protect yourself against catalytic converter theft in three ways.

  • First, etch your license plate number into it. If someone steals your car part, law enforcement can track it down. Some police departments also hold etching sessions with local garages.
  • Second, park in a well-lit area at all times. Setting your car alarm and installing a bright motion sensor light may also be beneficial.
  • Third, install an anti-theft device with a bolted shield or plate covering the catalytic converter.


Catalytic converter theft has increased dramatically in the last year or so. If you start your car and it sounds loud and strange, you may have been a victim of this type of theft. Check if your auto insurance policy covers it if you encounter this. Use the tips mentioned above to keep your car safe from catalytic converter theft. Consider shopping around for car insurance while looking for ways to protect your car and avoid theft. We hope this blog helps you alert you against the theft of catalytic converters!




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