Catalytic Converter Theft Advisory

Please be advised that the Hilltop Campus area has experienced an uptick in catalytic converter thefts. Toyota Priuses are the most common vehicle being targeted right now, although several have been stolen from various other makes and models. These thefts are taking place during the day and night and often in public parking lots. 

The reason is the value of the metals used in the manufacturing of the catalytic converters. Catalytic converters contain platinum, rhodium, and palladium. The metals are expensive, and thieves sell the converters to scrap yards for several hundred dollars per piece, depending on the size of the converter and the current rate on the metals inside it. It can cost on average up to $2,000 to replace a 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’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, often with a sense of sputtering as you change speed. Go to the back of the 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 is missing, and you will likely see signs of the piping being cut away.

The rate of catalytic converter theft varies depending on the current prices of the metals inside it. Price increases typically result in an increase in thefts. Thieves look for easy targets when it comes to catalytic converter theft, and a few simple steps help make your vehicle a less likely target:

  • Always park in well-lit areas when possible.
  • If you have a personal garage, keep your car in the garage with the door closed when the vehicle is not in use. 
  • Park close to a building entrance or to the nearest access road when parking in a public lot. This is helpful due to the increased amount of pedestrian traffic in those areas.
  • In addition, security devices are available that attach to the converter, making it harder to steal. Having the converter welded in place also makes it more difficult to remove. You may also engrave your VIN number onto your catalytic converter to make it easier to identify in case it does get stolen. 

Department of Public Safety