Catalyst Converter Theft – How to protect your car

27 Posted: 27th Apr 2023
Catalyst Converter Theft – How to protect your car

Is your area reporting thefts of catalytic converters? Are you concerned about your car being the target of such a crime? Since the rise in sales of hybrids, this type of theft has kept rising in numbers because of the precious metal they contain 

As Sky News indicated back in 2022, "Almost 100,000 thefts of catalytic converters have been recorded in three years […]", these numbers are on the rise in 2023. The value of these precious metals are worth up to £600 on the black market, makes them an ideal target for easy theft in the UK and worldwide.  

So, how can you protect your vehicle against such crimes? Is there an anti-theft device that can be installed to give you piece of mind? Or maybe there are routines you can incorporate into your daily driving journey to avoid such stress over time.  

In this article, we are looking into what catalytic converters are and why they keep being a target for theft, but also how to protect your own car against this crime. 

  • What is a catalytic converter?

    A catalytic converter is a piece of equipment found in an automobile's exhaust system. Its goal is to lessen the number of dangerous pollutants released into the environment by the car's engine.  

    Precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium are found inside catalytic converters, where they function as catalysts to speed up chemical processes that change harmful exhaust gases into less harmful ones. In particular, the catalytic converter changes nitrogen oxides (NOx) into nitrogen and oxygen, hydrocarbons (HC) into carbon dioxide and water (H2O), and carbon monoxide (CO) into carbon dioxide (CO2).  

    Most countries require catalytic converters to reduce harmful pollutants emitted by vehicles. They can be recognised by their distinctive size and shape, which are usually found in the exhaust system close to the engine. 

  • Why are thieves stealing catalytic converters?

    Because catalytic converters contain precious metals that are used as catalysts to lower emissions in vehicles, such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium, thieves target them. Due to their rarity and high demand in sectors like jewellery, technology, and the automotive industry, these metals have increased in value over the past few years 

    Catalytic converters are susceptible to theft because they are frequently found underneath vehicles and are relatively easy to access with the proper tools. In a matter of minutes, thieves can steal the catalytic converter from a car and sell it to scrap yards or metal traders for hundreds of pounds.

  • How long does it take to remove a catalytic converter?

    Typically, it can take less than a minute for a thief to remove a catalytic converter.  

  • How much are catalytic converters worth?

    Up to September 2021, the value of the precious metals found in catalytic converters: 

    • Platinum was trading at around £730-£876 per troy ounce

    • Palladium was trading at around £1,679-£1,823 per troy ounce

    • Rhodium was trading at around £7,300-£8,760 per troy ounce.

  • Which parts of the UK are the most targeted for catalytic converter theft?

    London, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Devon, Leicestershire, Warwickshire & Greater Manchester. 

    The Norfolk Police raises the alarm about spikes in this region for catalytic converters theft: “So far in 2023 more than 100 such thefts have been reported.”

  • Catalytic Converter Theft Map UK
  • What cars have the most stolen catalytic converters?

    Although catalytic converter theft can happen in any type of car, some are more frequently targeted because of the price and accessibility of their converters. Due to the high concentration of precious metals in their catalytic converters and the ease with which they can be accessed, hybrid cars, especially older versions, are typically the most targeted. This is so that thieves can more easily operate undetected. Hybrid cars generally have larger, more expensive catalytic converters, and the electric motor produces less noise. 

    However, vehicles with a high ground clearance, such as trucks, SUVs, and vans, may be more vulnerable to catalytic converter theft because of ease of access. Additionally, cars parked in unsecured locations or left there for a prolonged period of time, like in airport parking lots or on residential streets are more likely to be targeted by thieves. 

    Below is a list of most vandalised model of cars for their catalytic converters: 

    • Toyota Auris

    • Toyota Prius

    • Honda Jazz

    • Honda Civic

    • Honda CR-V

    • Certain Lexus models 

    Most hybrids are favourite for theft because their precious metal is less corroded than other models. 



  • How do I know if my catalytic converter is stolen?

    The first warning sign if your catalytic converter is missing is the loud noise when starting the engine. It is unmistakeable and very loud, a noise that even a loud radio cannot cover. 

    You should also notice the loss of power from your car as you drive it or a heavy smoke coming out of the back of your car. Another sign of a missing converter is the exhaust light on your dashboard – please do not ignore this warning light when it comes on! 

  • Do 100% electric cars have a catalytic converter?

    Since electric vehicles (EVs) do not produce exhaust gases like traditional gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles, they are not fitted with a catalytic converter. Instead, they are powered by an electric motor that runs on a battery, and the only by-product of their operation is heat. 

    Since EVs do not have an internal combustion engine that burns fuel and produces exhaust gases, they do not require a catalytic converter to reduce harmful emissions. 

  • How do I stop thieves from stealing my catalytic converter?

    There are a few things you can do to prevent this vandalism from happening: 

    • Park your car close to walls or cars so thieves cannot lift it easily,

    • Make sure your car alarm is on when leaving it,

    • Get a meta case fitted to deter thieves from removing the catalytic converter,

    • Do not leave your car in public spaces for an extended period of time,

    • Where possible, keep your car in secure buildings or locked garages. 

    With the UK government aiming for net zero by 2050, the rise of EV cars is taking over the market, reducing the number of cars with catalytic converters. This is good news for owners who stress about this type of crime.  

    Read more about protecting your catalytic converter with Catloc:  

  • Does insurance cover catalytic converter theft?

    If you took on an insurance that covers theft, then you should be covered for this type of crime. As stealing a catalytic converter falls under theft you should be able to get your money back from your car insurance provider. Same goes for insurance with Comprehensive category. 

  • Next steps.

    In short, catalytic converters are an important part of your car that thieves steal for the precious metal within them. Although your car insurance can cover the cost of the stolen part, there are a few things you can do to protect your vehicle: Park close to walls or other cars to stop thieves from lifting your car; fit a metal protector around your catalytic converter for extra peace of mind; and make sure to leave your car in a safe and secure place as often as possible.  

    At SLM Group, we understand the gravity of this crime, and we help put our customers at ease with the right solutions in place. Contact us for more details. 


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