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Catalytic converter theft: What is it and what can you do to prevent it


In recent years, Canada has seen an alarming rise in the theft of catalytic converters, particularly since the start of the pandemic. The valuable exhaust system part is being targeted by thieves for the precious metals inside. Metals that are now “more valuable than gold”.
 
Let’s take a look at what a catalytic converter is, why thieves are targeting it, and what you can do to protect yourself against catalytic converter theft.

What is a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter is an important part of a vehicle’s exhaust system. It reduces the airborne engine exhaust pollutants that can be harmful to us and the environment by converting them to less toxic material. Catalytic converters are found on almost all vehicles nowadays, except for electric vehicles as they do not produce emissions. They’re typically located on the underside of the vehicle between the engine and the muffler.

Why are thieves targeting catalytic converters?

There are three precious metals found inside catalytic converters: palladium, platinum and rhodium. After cutting a converter out of a vehicle, thieves can sell it on the scrap metal market. The resale price depends on the model of the vehicle, but a single converter can usually fetch between $100 to $500 for a car’s catalytic converter and $500 to $1,500 for a van or truck’s.2
 
While catalytic converters have been stolen for years, it has recently become a growing problem. This is because the value of the precious metals inside has gone up significantly—some even quadrupling in value over the past three years.2 And with more automakers working to meet stricter emissions standards, a higher quantity of these precious metals is required to make catalytic converters work more effectively. This has caused a spike in demand for the metals inside, contributing to their recent rise in value.
 
While a thief can fetch a fair amount of money for this one part, it costs the vehicle owner much more to replace it. Depending on the model of your vehicle and the replacement catalytic converter selected, you could be looking at a bill between $1,500 to $2,500.3

How can I protect myself against catalytic converter theft?

Catalytic converter theft is primarily a crime of opportunity. There are steps you can take to prevent catalytic converter theft by making your vehicle more difficult for thieves to access:

  • Park your vehicle inside a garage when possible. Keep all garage doors closed and locked.

  • If you don’t have access to a garage, park in well-lit areas and near building entrances.

  • Set your vehicle's alarm to go off when vibration is detected.


The RCMP also recommends having your vehicle identification number (VIN) engraved on your catalytic converter.4 This makes it clear to scrap metal dealers that the converter is stolen and makes it easier to track down the vehicle owner. 
 
Catalytic converter theft is typically covered under a comprehensive car insurance policy. Review your policy closely and contact your insurance broker if you have questions about your coverage.
 
If you have an existing OTIP car insurance policy and want to know more about your current coverage, or inquire about recommended coverage, connect with your OTIP insurance broker at 1-888-494-0090.
 
If you’re shopping for car insurance and would like to get a quote, contact us today at 1-888-892-4935.
 

  1. CBC News

  2. The Globe and Mail

  3. CBC News

  4. RCMP

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