How can I prevent catalytic converter theft?
Taking precautions to avoid theft is critical for car owners, especially for those with higher-risk vehicles.
1. Park carefully.
Common sense tactics—such as making your car more difficult to access or parking in a place with foot traffic—might help protect your vehicle. “Park your vehicle where it is secured, such as an enclosed garage,” Mock advises. If a garage is inaccessible, choose street parking strategically. Look for building entrances, well-lit main streets, and security cameras.
2. Have an anti-theft device installed.
There are some devices that make it harder to remove the converter, which can deter a thief. Often, car owners don’t think to install theft prevention devices (typically called catalytic converter plates, shields, or cages) until after a theft has occurred, Bridgwater says. While insurance companies don’t normally cover the cost of installation, these devices are highly effective and relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of replacing stolen parts. Bridgwater’s shop prefers Cat Security, which makes a metal plate that covers the converter and is designed for Priuses and Nissan NV. Mock says Cat Clamp, a cage device that makes stealing a converter much harder, can be installed by AAA repair shops, but they generally don’t sell them. Instead, the locking mechanism can be purchased easily online (limited options may be available at some local parts stores) and brought to the shop to be installed.
Some people may worry that adding these devices will void warranties, but Mock says that the law is on the consumer’s side. He cites the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act of 1975,15 USC, 2302 and Clean Air Act 42 of USA code 7541, which require that the manufacturer prove that the part you installed directly caused a failure. He adds, “If in doubt, check with the dealer.”
If you can’t get a device installed, etch your vehicle's VIN number in multiple places on the converter to make it easier for the part to be tracked and returned to you should it be stolen.
3. Install security cameras.
A digital lookout can be a deterrent and helpful for local law enforcement in the case of a theft. The San Mateo Police Department recommends installing security cameras facing the street or driveway where you park.