April - June 2021
CITY OF LAGUNA NIGUEL • LAGUNA NIGUEL POLICE SERVICES COMMUNITY PUBLICATION
Catalytic Converter Thefts
Orange County has seen a rise in the theft of catalytic converters from vehicle exhaust systems . Toyota Priuses are the most common vehicle type being targeted right now , although several have been stolen from various other makes and models .
Catalytic converters contain platinum , rhodium , and palladium . These metals are expensive , and thieves can sell the converters to scrap yards for several hundred dollars per piece . The recyclers then extract the metal and resell it for as much as $ 6,000 an ounce , as in the case of rhodium . It can cost you on average up to $ 2000 to replace the catalytic converter , and it is illegal to drive your car without one . The resulting gap in your exhaust system also makes the car run poorly until it is fixed .
You may be asking yourself , “ How will I know if I ’ ve been a victim ?” You ’ ll notice a loud rumbling or roaring sound as soon as you turn on the engine if your catalytic converter is missing . This gets louder when you hit the gas . The exhaust is not working properly , so the vehicle also drives rougher than usual . Go to the back of your car and look underneath . The catalytic converter is a round canister that connects two pieces of piping in the exhaust . You will see a gaping space in the middle of your exhaust if the converter has been removed .
Thieves can remove the catalytic converter quickly , often in less than two minutes , so theft can even occur in broad daylight . Typically , catalytic converters are stolen from cars and trucks in driveways , strip malls , or parked on
the street . The most commonly hit vehicles are SUVs and trucks , especially late-model Toyotas .
How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft
There are a few options that may help prevent this type of theft . If you have a personal garage , keep your car in the garage with the door closed when the vehicle is not in use . Some mechanics suggest welding the heads on the catalytic converter bolts – or simply shearing them off . The aftermarket has responded by designing products to deter and prevent this type of theft . The idea behind such devices is that if it takes too long to make the steal , the thieves will move on to easier pickings . The CatClamp , for example , which starts at $ 150 , is a hard-todefeat cage installed around the catalytic converter . This product can be installed by a mechanic or at home with the included specialized tool and is backed by a moneyback guarantee . You can also engrave your VIN number onto your catalytic converter to make it easier to identify in case it does get stolen .
While most owners don ’ t give much thought to their catalytic converter , those with vehicles high off the ground might want to think twice . It ’ s always wiser to park in well-lit or protected public parking lots and to park your car in your garage if possible . Owners whose vehicles have easy clearance underneath might want to take it a step further with an aftermarket product . Taking these precautionary measures will hopefully deter thieves and keep your car running smoothly .