Protect your car against catalytic converter theft

June 27, 2021 by PEMCO Insurance

Unusually high rates of catalytic converter theft continue across the Northwest and the nation as thieves plunder the emission-control devices to sell as scrap metal. PEMCO's seen a 2,156% increase in catalytic converter theft claims in the past year, 361 thefts vs. 16. Prime targets include Toyota Priuses (they're lightweight and easy to jack up) and high-clearance vehicles like pickups and SUVs, which offer easier access to the part.

The catalytic converter is positioned on your car's undercarriage near the muffler and exhaust pipe. Its value to thieves isn't so much in the device itself, but in the precious metals (platinum, palladium and rhodium) it contains, which have soared in value recently.

GettyImages-1315005619.jpgA thief gets between $100 and $200 per catalytic converter on the scrap-metal market. But vehicle repair costs are typically 10 times more!

With the right kind of saw, a practiced thief can remove a catalytic converter in under two minutes, meaning they usually get away unseen. And even if caught with a trunk full of catalytic converters, thieves are hard to arrest because catalytic converters don't have identifying marks on them (like VINs) that trace back to a particular car.

Here'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.

2. Adjust your car alarm's sensitivity 

So it can detect vibration (like sawing).

3. Ask your mechanic about installing a catalytic converter protective shield.

On Amazon, part prices start at $135.

4. 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 closely examine your vehicle.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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. 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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