Protect yourself from catalytic converter theft

Wednesday, March 10, 2021by  PEMCO Insurance

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Catalytic converter theft is spiking in the Northwest, and if you own a lightweight car (easy to jack up) or vehicle with ample ground clearance (like a pickup), you're at higher risk.

The catalytic converter is part of your car's emissions system, positioned on its undercarriage near the muffler and exhaust pipe. The prize for thieves isn't so much the catalytic converter itself as the rare and pricey metals it contains. Armed with the right kind of saw, a practiced thief can jack up your car and remove it in less than a minute.

GettyImages-174798960.jpgHere's what you can do to help safeguard your car:

  1. Park inside your garage at home; otherwise, choose well-lighted, visible parking spots within view of security cameras. The wee hours between 3 and 5 a.m. are prime times for any kind of auto theft.
  1. Adjust your car alarm's sensitivity so it can detect vibration (like sawing).
  1. Ask your mechanic about installing a catalytic converter protective shield. On Amazon, part prices start at $135.
  1. Call the police if you see anyone suspicious near or under your car. Don't confront the person yourself.

And if you're a victim of catalytic converter theft:

  1. Safety first. Ensure the thief is long gone before you linger to closely examine your vehicle.
  1. Don't attempt to drive the car. You'll know if you're a victim – your car will be extremely loud and you may smell exhaust fumes. Have it towed for repair.
  1. Notify the police. Use the non-emergency number or, depending on your city, you may be able to file a report online. While you may not get your catalytic converter back, reporting helps local law enforcement maintain accurate crime statistics and can alert them to trends. Keep a copy of your report or at least get the number so you can include it if you file an insurance claim.
  1. Call PEMCO. If you selected Comprehensive coverage on your policy, we can get your car towed to a repair shop and help you get it fixed. Your deductible applies. If you don't have Comprehensive but you do have PEMCO Towing & Labor Reimbursement, you still can use it for your tow, no-deductible required.

As your neighbors and insurers, we hope this rash of thefts declines soon. We're averaging one or two claims a week for catalytic converter thefts (normally, we don't have any), and we're noticing Toyota Prius models are the prime target. If a thief damages your car, know that we're here to help! You can report a claim 24/7 online at, or call us at 1-800-GO-PEMCO (1-800-467-3626).

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Comments on this post

personClaudia McClain06/17/2021 11:39 AM
I was a victim of catalytic converter theft just this week!  My Ford Escape was parked in my insurance agency (ironic, right?) office in clear sight of several offices with large windows.  This happened during daylight hours and could only have taken a minute or two for this to go unnoticed.  I definitely plan to install a protective shield once my catalytic converter is replaced because anything that slows the criminals down will help and maybe cause them to move on. 
personFred Pasquale04/16/2021 10:34 AM
How effective are the protective shields?  I see mixed info when I search the web.

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