Why Do People Steal Catalytic Converters?

What if we told you that you left a gold nugget in your car? Would you leave it in the car unprotected and out in the open? With the skyrocketing costs of precious metals, your vehicle’s catalytic converter looks like a gold mine to thieves. Catalytic converters are easy to steal, hard to trace, and difficult to prosecute. Thieves are making quick and easy money selling your converters on the black market.

While converter theft has been a decades old problem, in about 2019 we saw the prices for these precious commodities skyrocket to unprecedented levels. Mining platinum, palladium, and rhodium is extremely hard and expensive. When the demand for these metals rose, it made the metal jump in value and turned your converter into something worth more than gold. 

Statistic: Monthly development of the price of selected precious metals from January 2019 to September 2022 (in index value) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista 

How Much is a Stolen Catalytic Converter Worth?

Big money is the main motivation for catalytic converter thieves. According to Mining Technology News, platinum, palladium, and rhodium are among the most expensive mined materials. For instance, in January 2020, the pre-pandemic spot price of Rhodium was $5850 per ounce and increased to over $30,000 per ounce at the peak. Even today, the market value of Rhodium runs high at $15,000 per ounce. 

The ease of stealing catalytic converters all while keeping their anonymity is appealing for criminals. With a reciprocating saw, a person can get under the car or truck and out in about 30 seconds with little likelihood of getting caught. With the current state of the economy and increasing cost of living across the U.S., catalytic converter theft can seem as a means to an end with a hefty financial bonus. Every vehicle contains a different amount of precious metal, therefore, making some vehicles more sought after. Some early 2000 model vehicles contain a very high level of precious metals because manufacturers were trying to make cleaner cars and the prices of the metal was extremely cheap at that time. This is why the early model Prius and early 2000 Accords are highly sought after. Prius and Accord converters fetch some of the highest price on the black market and can earn a thief almost $1,000 for less than a minute of work. Thieves do have a preference on which converter they will steal, but almost every gasoline or diesel powered vehicle is a potential target. Unfortunately, the vehicle owner, depending on the vehicle make and model, can pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for a catalytic converter part replacement. This, on top of loss of time at work, finding and paying for alternative transportation, and the hassle of being a victim of this crime, is a burden for vehicle owners. 

How Can I Stop Someone From Stealing My Catalytic Converter? 


With the spike in precious metals value and rising numbers of catalytic converter theft, car, truck, and SUV owners want peace of mind when parking their vehicle. The best way people can keep their investment safe is making it more difficult for criminals to steal the catalytic converter. Many states offer catalytic converter engraving for free. This can help link the converter to the vehicle and rightful owner, but will not prevent a thief from stealing it. Other ways that may deter would be criminals is to park in a well lit area, parking inside a closed garage, and installing motion lights and cameras in driveways. For the greatest level of protection against catalytic converter theft, we recommend Cat Shield™ by MillerCat. Available in different materials (including 304 stainless steel), Cat Shield™ offers the ultimate strength and deterrence to protect your vehicle and restore your confidence to drive and park again. 

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