Sharon Koehler

Stone Industry Consultant

Something recently happened to two friends of mine. One on a personal level, and one on a business level.

#1 – The lady who lives across the street from me walked out to her driveway one morning and got in her truck. When she started it, there was a terrible noise, and it was running very rough.

#2 – A friend of mine owns a business, and that business owns what he refers to as a “fleet” of vehicles that he parks in an unsecured lot. He got a call one morning that the company’s template truck, 3 install trucks, and the sales car were all somehow damaged and needed to go to the shop. When they were started, they all sounded terrible and were running very rough and somewhat unresponsive.

Catalytic  Converter  thefts are up  1,215% since 2019.Both situations had the same cause: stolen catalytic converters. 

That may not sound like a big deal on the surface, but, did you know that catalytic converter thefts are up 1,215% since 2019? And it’s getting worse. Recycle value is anywhere from $157 up to $1,200 per converter. That’s a lot of money for 10 minutes work. The average insurance claim for a stolen catalytic converter claim is between $3,000 and $4,000 dollars. In 2022, one nationwide insurance company paid out over $50 MILLION in catalytic converter claims. JUST ONE COMPANY! Think about all the other insurance companies also paying these claims. That’s one answer as to why insurance premiums are going up. Plus, if you don’t carry comprehensive insurance on your vehicle, then you are paying out of pocket for replacement.

It’s not just the inconvenience of filing a claim and taking your vehicle to the shop. With the rise in thefts and some lingering supply chain issues, there are also wait times involved. The lady across the street from me: her mechanic said 3 to 4 months before he could replace it. My friend with the fleet of trucks: the sales car and one install truck were fixed right away. The other trucks would be a 4 to 6 month wait. Who can afford to sideline their fleet for months at a time? No one.

Catalytic  Converter  thefts are up  1,215% since 2019.The reason catalytic converters are so coveted by thieves is because of what is in them. Precious metals such as palladium, rhodium and platinum are inside. On average there are 3 to 7 grams of platinum, 2 to 7 grams of palladium and 1 to 2 grams of rhodium in a standard catalytic converter. In today’s market, platinum is roughly $32 per gram. Palladium is about $52 per gram and Rhodium is $389 per gram, give or take current market value. Those precious metals are the reason thieves, recyclers and scrap yards are so interested in catalytic converters.

However, there are some things you can do to help prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen, although, admittedly, no protection is 100% guaranteed when a determined thief is involved.

  • Spray paint your catalytic converter with high temp fluorescent paint. To be recycled, all paint must be removed. Thieves want fast and easy. They don’t want to scrub car parts.

  • Have your mechanic etch your license number or VIN on the converter on a visible spot. This alerts recyclers to double check to see if the person selling it actually owns it. Plus, if the police do recover it, they will have an easier time figuring out who it belongs to. 

  • Get a catalytic converter shield. These shields are sheets of metal that either get bolted or welded to the frame, hiding the converter. It takes the quick and easy part away from the thief. You may have to special order this piece. They are usually vehicle model specific.

  • You can also get a converter lock. This product is aircraft grade metal rope attached to the frame and exhaust pipe. All the ropes will have to be cut through before they even think about taking the converter. 

  • Another idea is to get a catalytic converter alarm. It gets installed under the vehicle and will go off with an ear-piercing alarm if the converter is rocked or moved.  (Sort of like a car alarm.)

There are some other preventative measures you can do if it’s within your means:

  • Install motion lights in your parking area.

  • Park in a garage (locked).

  • Park in a well-lit area.

  • Install a security system with cameras.

  • If you are in the market for a new car, buy an electric car. They don’t have catalytic converters.

  • Double check your insurance to make sure you are covered.

Granted, a lot of these deterrent methods do cost money, but you should look at them as investments. If you spend $200 to $400 per vehicle, it could save you thousands in the long run – not to mention time and aggravation, plus business losses while you try to sort it out or wait for repairs. With catalytic converter thefts running rampant, it may be better to be safe rather than sorry. 

Please send your thoughts and comments on this article to Sharon Koehler at