Catalytic converters: What you need to know about catalytic converter theft

Male mechanic with wrench working underneath a vehicle

With rising prices, supply chain disruptions and a scarcity of new vehicles, thieves are stealing cars and parts off vehicles. One auto part that’s grown in popularity among thieves is the catalytic converter – a valuable part that's easier to steal than cars themselves.

Across Canada, this type of theft is on the rise. In 2021, Aviva saw an increase of 123% more catalytic converter theft incidents than in 2020, and the number of these thefts continues to rise as more converters get stolen.

What are catalytic converters and why do thieves steal catalytic converters?

Since the 1970s, internal combustion engines use catalytic converters as exhaust emission control devices to convert hazardous gases and pollutants into less toxic carbon dioxide and water vapour.

The catalytic converter is the part of the car that wraps around the exhaust pipe. The precious metals in catalytic converters – platinum, palladium and rhodium, are the product that thieves are after. Not only does this type of theft drive up the cost of insurance, but the money received from selling the metal helps fuel illegal activities.

A catalytic converter is an important part in your vehicle and having it stolen is a major inconvenience and expense. Not only is it a hassle to not have your car in working order when you need it, but due to the dramatic increase of these thefts and overall supply chain issues, parts can be on backorder. This delay means it could take a while before your vehicle is repaired and your catalytic converter is replaced.

Are you a target for catalytic converter theft?

While any vehicle can fall victim to this type of part theft, certain vehicles appear to be particularly vulnerable to car catalytic converter theft. So far in 2022, Aviva Canada has seen a number of Hyundai Tucsons, Mitsubishi RVRs, Honda CR-Vs, Hyundai Santa Fes, and Ford F150s targeted. In addition, those living in the GTA, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton areas appear to be the hardest hit areas for catalytic converter theft.

Catalytic converter theft prevention tips

Although a catalytic converter may appear small, replacing it could be costly. While the theft may not be obvious when glancing at your vehicle, you’ll be able to tell something is wrong when you start your car because the engine will make a loud roaring noise as you accelerate the vehicle.

Here are some tips on how you can help protect yourself from catalytic converter thief:

  • Consider having your VIN engraved onto your catalytic converter by a specialist. This may make the resale of the stolen part more difficult at the scrapyard and can help identify the correct owner of the vehicle.
  • Park your car in your garage. If that’s not an option, park your car in a well-lit and secure area.
  • Consider buying a metal cage that can be installed on your vehicle to cover the catalytic converter.

The best step when you discover your catalytic converter was stolen is to file a police report and contact your insurance company. This way your vehicle and damages can be properly assessed by an insurance policy expert.

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