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The Latest at ESP Truck

Catalytic Converter

It has been determined that the listed car make & models are the top targets for thieves nationwide.

  • 1985-2021 Ford F-Series pickup trucks (F-150, F-250, etc.)

  • 1989-2020 Honda Accord

  • 2007-17 Jeep Patriot

  • 1990-2022 Ford Econoline vans

  • 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks

  • 2005-21 Chevrolet Equinox

  • 1997-2020 Honda CR-V

  • 1987-2019 Toyota Camry

  • 2011-17 Chrysler 200

  • 2001-21 Toyota Prius

How are the catalytic converters stolen?

All vehicles manufactured after 1974 contain a catalytic converter. In order to steal these converters and sell the metals they contain, criminals often use a jack and angle grinder to remove them from vehicles in a matter of minutes.

This brazen crime comes at a high cost for vehicle owners, who often miss work, face transportation difficulties, and have to pay $1,000 to $3,000 out of pocket to fix their vehicles.

However, experts and law enforcement officials have explained the measures residents can take to protect their vehicles from these robberies.

Park in areas where your vehicle will be easily seen by pedestrians. For example, park vehicles in secured, well-lit areas.

Park defensively: Park high-profile vehicles so they are surrounded by low ground-clearance vehicles. This may deter thieves by making it harder for them to access the most vulnerable targets.

Install a catalytic converter protection device that will clamp around the converter.

Catalytic Converter Theft and the Smog Check Program

The catalytic converter is a vital emissions control device and will be given close attention during a Smog Check. It contains rare metals which convert smog-causing pollutants that pass through a vehicle’s exhaust system into less harmful compounds. As these metals are highly valuable, catalytic converter theft has become more rife.

Experienced thieves can remove a catalytic converter in a minute or two using only basic tools. What might net a thief hundreds of dollars from a scrapyard or recycler could cost you thousands of dollars to replace, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Continue reading to find out how you can protect your catalytic converter and prepare for your vehicle’s next Smog Check.

How can I protect my vehicle from catalytic converter theft?

A licensed auto shop can install a protective plate, shield, clamp, cage, strap, or other device to secure your catalytic converter. The device must be properly installed to avoid damage to the catalytic converter and ensure all identifying information is visible. The device should not be welded or attached directly to the catalytic converter.

Mark your catalytic converter - If you engrave or etch your catalytic converter with your vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number, it might deter theft. It might also tell a reputable scrap dealer that the device is stolen and help identify the owner. If you also want to paint your catalytic converter with bright, fluorescent paint, make sure the paint does not cover any identifying information. Talk to your local law enforcement agency about any upcoming no-cost engraving/etching events.

Adjust your vehicle’s alarmAn alarm that is properly calibrated can detect vibrations, allowing you to be alerted or scaring thieves away.

Park your vehicle in a safe locationIf you have a garage, make use of it. You should also think about installing motion-sensitive lights if you park in your driveway. When parking in a public lot, try to park close to a building entrance or in a well-lit and high-traffic area.

Will a catalytic converter theft prevention device impact my vehicle’s Smog Check results?

A vehicle will fail the Smog Check if the theft prevention device modifies or damages the catalytic converter, if any required identifying information is not visible, or if the device is welded or attached directly to the converter. To prevent issues during your vehicle's Smog Check, only visit licensed auto shops.

My vehicle's catalytic converter was stolen and/or needs to be replaced. What do I do?

You need to take your car to a certified Smog Check station to have them install a new converter. The replacement converter must come from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or a California Air Resources Board approved aftermarket converter that matches the specific requirements for your vehicle. The station will help ensure that the correct replacement converter is installed properly on your vehicle.

You can use BAR’s Auto Shop Locator to find a Smog Check station nearby. If you have trouble finding a replacement converter, contact the vehicle manufacturer or Smog Check Referee for help.

It’s important to note that the replacement converter should be installed as soon as possible to avoid any potential problems or damage to your vehicle. It must be installed before your vehicle's next Smog Check. If the replacement converter is on back order, contact the Smog Check Referee for assistance.

Will my vehicle insurance cover the cost to replace a stolen catalytic Converter?

Please consult your vehicle insurance provider to see if your policy covers stolen auto parts. It is important to note that BAR's Consumer Assistance Program does not include the replacement of a stolen catalytic converter.

The Toyota Prius was so popular in California fifteen years ago that buyers had to wait up to seven months to purchase one. Now, the aging hybrid is in demand again--but for an entirely different reason.

The second-generation Prius, sold from 2004 to 2009, has become a prime target for catalytic converter theft in California. The car's shoebox-sized anti-pollution device contains trace amounts of precious metals and can fetch several hundred dollars from scrap yards and recyclers.

Converter thefts have surged across the U.S. in the last two years. One analysis of repairs at 60,000 auto shops found that Ford F-150 trucks and Honda Accords were the most frequent theft targets nationally, while the Prius was 10th.

Catalytic converters in hybrids have a higher concentration of precious metals compared to gas-only cars. The 2007 Prius’ converter has a resale value of more than $1,000, while a 2007 F-150 converter is valued at about $150. Newer Priuses are targets for thieves too, but they use a different converter that sells for less.

The frequency of partial theft reports — which includes the theft of catalytic converters — spiked by nearly 850% in California from 2019 to 2021, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute, a nonprofit funded by the insurance industry. About a quarter of the country’s insured Priuses sold between 2004 and 2009 are in California.

Owners of older, reliable cars now face an unappealing dilemma: Spend more money on a new car, or keep the old one and risk a catalytic converter theft, which can cost more than $3,000 to repair.

Some Prius owners have resorted to guerilla solutions, such as painting their catalytic converters bright orange or pink, etching the devices with a vehicle identification number, and bolting on protective plates and cages.

At ESP Truck Accessories, we provide Catalytic Converter Shields and are adding new releases daily. We also provide installation. It's worth protecting your Catalytic Converter from theft saving you $1,000s as these thieves continue to make millions!

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