Top 10: Ways to prevent catalytic converter theft
Reported thefts of catalytic converters are increasing, especially in London, with hybrid models - which contain a higher percentage of precious metals - particularly at risk. Here are our top 10 tips to keep you cat converter safely where it should be.
Park vehicles so as to prevent access underneath
In order to steal the parts, thieves need to slide under the vehicle and use cutting tools to detach the box from the pipes around it. This means parking your car close to fences, walls or kerbs will make theft much more difficult.
Mark catalytic converters with a serial number
Some garages will etch a unique serial number onto your catalytic converter so it can be easily identified if it is stolen. You'll also be provided with a sticker to be displayed in your window that indicates your catalytic converter is marked - which prevents offenders from targeting your vehicle.
Ask a garage to weld the bolts
If your catalytic converter is bolted on, you can ask for your local garage to weld the bolts to make it more difficult to remove.
You can purchase devices that lock in around the converter to make it more difficult to remove. Toyota has its own device, called a Catloc. The Catloc has over 45 bespoke fitments, so the device should fit quite a few models in the range. The Catloc costs between £200 and £250 (depending on model), which includes VAT and fitting by a Toyota retailer. While this isn't a cheap solution, replacing a catalytic converter can cost well over £1000, including fitting. Hybrid models (like the Toyota Prius), which contain a higher percentage of precious metals, are also particularly at risk. The Catloc can't guarantee theft prevention but it does make cutting the cat converter out more difficult.
Install security camera(s)
Installing security cameras (CCTV, Ring Doorbell etc) seems like an obvious answer, and it is. Unfortunately, if you don't park on your driveway then this can be significantly more difficult to implement. There are alternative options to keep an eye on your car when you park it up, like wildlife trail cameras - but realistically it's best to park in areas where there's possible CCTV filming anyway - like well-lit, well-traversed streets if you can't park off-street.
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Park in well lit areas
This one is pretty self-explanatory but keep in mind that thieves are often opportunistic. The equipment required to cut out a cat converter is pretty heavy-duty, but once a vehicle is targeted - thieves tend to wait for an opportunity to strike as the theft itself takes a matter of minutes. If you park in an area that's well lit, which people regularly walk past, you're less likely to come back to find your catalytic converter has been pinched.
If your vehicle doesn't have an alarm and you live in an area where cat converter thefts are on the rise (big cities like London), it's definitely time to invest in one. The noise of the alarm should be enough to scare off any thieves.
The CatClamp 'clamps' to the exhaust pipes, not the converter, allowing different sized and shaped converters to be protected. This eliminates the risk of damaging the converter, heat shield or oxygen sensors. Locked to the vehicle’s chassis up to seven times, it makes stealing your catalytic converter very difficult for a thief in a hurry. Three options are available, starting at £99 (CatClampEconomy) and topping out at £350 for the CatClamp MAXX³.
Store your vehicle off road
This option simply won't be suitable for everybody, but if you have a garage you can use - it makes sense to keep your vehicle in there, especially if you live/work in an area where catalytic converter thefts are common. If you don't have a garage you can access, try to park alongside other vehicles or in designated parking areas - i.e. car parks, multi-storeys etc.
Blocking access to the underside of fleet vehicles
If you operate a small fleet, consider obstructing access to vehicles with high ground clearance by parking lower vehicles close by. Also, keep an eye out for anyone who seems to be working underneath cars nearby, they could very well be scouting out their next target vehicle.