Catalytic Converter Theft is on the Rise

Here is what you can do to prevent it

Catalytic converters are an essential component of every vehicle on the road today. Each one contains three rare earth metals; rhodium, palladium, and platinum; that makes them so expensive to buy and replace. It also makes them a high value target for thieves looking to make a quick buck. Usually, taking a converter is as simple as finding (or stealing) an electric saw, usually a Sawzall, finding someone that can fit under the vehicle, and hacking away at it until it falls off and can then be sold to a business that is equipped to extract the rare earth elements within. While regulations and laws are attempting to catch up to this new malicious trend, as it did for copper theft, in the meantime your vehicles are vulnerable to these quick hit attacks that can cost thousands of dollars to rectify.

To put it in perspective, in 2018 there were a reported 108 catalytic converter thefts per month. By 2020, that number rose to 1,203 average thefts per month. December 2020 alone saw 2,347 thefts across the country. There are several factors responsible for this exponential growth of thefts, many of which stem from the global pandemic. Because of how valuable and needed the rare earth elements inside of the converters are, prices broke records because of a constricted supply chain. With more people working from home or not at all, this gave criminals more opportunities to steal converters off vehicles that may not move for days or weeks at a time.

Thieves have become so brazen as to make victims of those that might feel insulated from such crimes by living in cities or using parking lots or decks. This video from Good Morning America demonstrates just how easy it is, especially with an experienced criminal, to steal the converters right out from under your vehicle.

Another popular way for thieves to steal converters is to target businesses where the schedule for when employees will be inside and occupied with their work can be easily learned, or businesses that rely on work trucks or other company cars that will be left overnight in a supposedly secure lot. The larger the catalytic converter the better, making large work trucks like bucket trucks or vans very tantalizing targets for thieves. Repeat hits are also not uncommon as thieves take advantage of the same targets until they know for sure there is a strong wall of security in place to prevent future thefts.

Certain security solutions like a traditional CCTV system can cover your vehicle lots but, in some cases, can do very little to stop these smash and grab thieves. At Security Engineers’, we have developed state-of-the-art mobile surveillance units that can provide 24/7, 360-degree, coverage for your lots. Our units are mounted on trailers and solar powered giving them the capability to be moved around and positioned in the best spot to give maximum coverage of your lots and important equipment. With motion capture technology, our operations center will be alerted to movement on your property and can then physically identify potential thieves and criminals. If our monitors verify that the detected motion was indeed criminals, they can then alert the proper authorities and bust them in the act. Our mobile surveillance units can also come equipped with loudspeakers as an optional attachment to scare off criminals before they can even get started. We recommend this attachment for areas with a high-risk of snatch and grab crimes like catalytic converter theft that can potentially be perpetrated before police can even arrive.

If you need help figuring out your security needs, please visit our website at Security Engineers Home – Security Engineers ( to schedule a consultation today! Let us help you figure out your security needs today!