Collection of Rusty Catalytic Converters

Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft

If you own a cargo or trucking yard, auto salvage lot, metal recycling facility, or have left your personal vehicle unattended at night, you are likely already aware of the spike in catalytic converter theft worldwide in 2020.

Unfortunately, the economic trends are not showing any signs of slowing down. It is suggested by economists that because of the green initiatives to decrease emissions, by the end of 2021 the price of these precious metals will continue to increase in value. 

When it comes to protecting your commercial property, employees, and valuable assets – don’t leave it up to luck. We are here to help you protect your business and increase security measures to avoid costly financial hardships, operational downtime, and potential damage to your reputation.

What is a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters are a part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, located between the engine and the muffler, and are designed to defend against air pollution from vehicles, according to

Why is Catalytic Converter Theft on the Rise?

Over the course of 2020 there was a significant increase in police reports related to converter theft – but why? There are two main influencers driving the price increase.

  1. The push for increased emissions regulations has skyrocketed the demand for catalytic converters, thus driving a steep price increase in the value per ounce of the precious metals used in the part. 
  2. This price increase paired with a worldwide pandemic harbored the perfect opportunity for theft. During the shutdowns, vehicles were left unattended for longer periods. Matched with job loss and increased desperation, it’s no surprise that catalytic converters have become a frequent target for thieves.

Stricter car emissions rules around the world — particularly in China, which has scrambled in recent years to get its dire air pollution problem under control — have sent demand for the precious metals in catalytic converters surging.

Why Do Thieves Steal Converters?

What is the appeal? The precious metals contained within the converter have a high-value per ounce when scrapped. Plus, they’re quick and easy to steal. Because of this, cat converters have always been a common target.  When scrapped, one catalytic converter can be worth around $200 each, depending on the size and condition of the part. 

What Precious Metals Are in Catalytic Converters?

These emission control devices contain palladium and rhodium – both of which have significantly increased in value, reaching record highs in 2020 for their asking price. 

The NY Times reports an increase of over 475% for palladium, from $500 an ounce in 2015 to an outstanding $2,875 an ounce in 2020. Rhodium saw an increase of over 3000%, from $640 in 2015 to a record $21,900 an ounce in 2020. 

This makes rhodium nearly 12 times the value of GOLD.

Palladium and Rhodium Chart

How Do Thieves Steal Converters?

  • Trucks, buses, and SUV’s – A few factors make these vehicles appealing:  they sit high off the ground making them more easily accessible, some larger vehicles and trucks have two converters, and the part itself is commonly larger, which = more money. 
  • Prius and Hybrid model cars – In the US, these cars are commonly hit with converter theft because the part on these cars contains a larger amount of precious metals. Additionally, because they’re hybrid, the cat converter doesn’t have to work as hard. Therefore, the converter will stay in better condition, which = more money.  
  • Modern cars are not exempt – even modern diesel vehicles and hybrid vehicles have cat converters and are at-risk. 

Negative Impacts of Converter Theft on Businesses:

  • Lost time and money filing police reports and attempting to locate the converter and/or find a replacement. 
  • Lost time and money replacing the converter – The average cost for a shop to replace a catalytic converter ranges from $2000 – $5000. That is – if you’re lucky enough to obtain the part. With the increased demand, these parts are taking up to 8 months to receive.  
  • Lost time and money while the vehicle is repaired and out of commission – Did you know it’s illegal to drive a vehicle without a catalytic converter? 

How to Prevent Converter Theft on Your Property

  • Protect your perimeter with an AMAROK Electric Guard Dog Fence. If a criminal can’t access your site, they can’t reach the catalytic converters to steal them. Perimeter security is essential to stop criminals from ever reaching your valued goods. With 7,000 volts of pulsing electricity and our bright yellow signs to deter criminals, we stop theft before it happens. Send criminals a clear message every time. Learn more about our Electric Guard Dog Fence. 
  • Install multi-layers of security with our FORTIFEYE solution. – When you have a determined criminal it is important to have multiple layers of security. FORTIFEYE integrates electric security fencing, video surveillance, and video monitoring to create the ultimate crime prevention solution for your site. These “smart cameras” work in conjunction with remote video monitoring and our fence to deter, detect, and detain criminals. Cameras instantly verify the presence of a would-be intruder, satisfying police response requirements for dual verification. 
  • Build or purchase aftermarket parts to secure the converter on each vehicle – CatClamps and other devices created to help prevent converters from being stolen cost anywhere from $160-$350 per vehicle + labor to install.  
  • Don’t leave it to luck – park your vehicles inside if possible and if not, ensure that you park your fleet and other vehicles in well-lit areas. You can also etch the vehicle VIN on the converter for better luck locating the stolen part.