Thieves targeting trucks for catalytic converters

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Updated Jan 13, 2016
Catalytic converters are more frequently stolen from trucks than any other vehicles. Steps can be taken to prevent it. Pictured above is a catalytic converter alarm system from Cat Strap.Catalytic converters are more frequently stolen from trucks than any other vehicles. Steps can be taken to prevent it. Pictured above is a catalytic converter alarm system from Cat Strap.

Trucks are more frequently targeted by thieves for their catalytic converters than other vehicles, according to police and insurance companies.

Stolen catalytic converters are sold at metal recycling centers where they fetch anywhere from $50 to $250, according to police in Sacramento, Calif.

Last week, police in Upper Macungie Township, Penn. reported that thieves stole catalytic converters from four work trucks that had been parked overnight at a local hotel. Police are hoping that anyone with information on the thefts will come forward.

The high ground clearance of trucks and SUVs makes them easier targets, say police and insurance companies, because thieves simply slide under the vehicles and cut-out or even unbolt converters containing precious metals used for emissions reduction.

Toyota trucks ranging from the 1990s to late models are particular favorites for thieves, according to Sacramento police, because the trucks frequently have two converters and they can be more easily unbolted instead of being cut-out with a portable power saw.

Nationwide Insurance reports that precious metals contained inside the converters continue to attract thieves.

“With the price of precious metal skyrocketing, thieves are helping themselves to catalytic converters that contain enough platinum, palladium or rhodium to make it worth the risk to cut it from the underbelly of your vehicle,” Natonwide states in a two-page report on the topic.

In a blog alerting drivers to catalytic converter theft, Allstate reports that replacing a stolen converter can cost more than $1,000, depending on converter type.

Thieves often look for trucks in large parking lots that are left overnight or even longer. Car lots, shopping centers, mass transit commuter lots and company parking lots are frequently targeted, according to Nationwide.

“With just a few cuts of a battery-powered saw, the catalytic converter can be stolen in less than a minute,” Nationwide reports.

Catalytic converter thefts have become so widespread that some states are now requiring metal recyclers to check the I.D. of those wishing to sell converters and then keep transaction records on those sellers for five years.

Anti-theft products made specifically to protect catalytic converters are available. sells a wire-infused exhaust wrap that is bonded permanently to the converter and the adjoining pipes. The wire, if cut, will activate an alarm.

Some auto body shops will fabricate and install metal cages around catalytic converters to deter thieves. Bowdens Auto Body in Escondido, Calif. offers a catalytic converter cage specifically for the Toyota Sequoia.

To prevent catalytic converter theft, Nationwide recommends following these tips:

  • Always park in well-lighted areas
  • At shopping centers and other similar parking lots, park close to the entrance of the building or near the access road where there’s a lot of traffic
  • If you own or work at a business or factory, park within a fenced area that’s busy during the day and secured at night
  • Engrave your license plate number on the converter to make it traceable
  • Purchase a vehicle security system and make sure it’s set to trigger with just the slightest motion
  • Visit a local muffler shop and have the converter secured to the vehicle’s frame with a couple of pieces of hardened steel welded to the frame
  • Check out the different types of catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts store or online