Catalytic converter theft and how to prevent it

Catalytic converter theft in Rapid City.
Published: Apr. 10, 2023 at 8:45 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - It can be a scenario no one wants to wake up to, you go out to start your car and it sounds much louder than it should. You may have just had your catalytic converter stolen and the repair could cost you.

The catalytic converter is a piece of equipment on your car that reduces the emissions of your exhaust by converting the toxic gases released into less harmful pollutants. This may seem mundane, but the part is frequently targeted due to many having precious metals inside. Depending on the car that it is taken from it can be anywhere from a $200 replacement to over 1k.

“So people are probably takin’ ‘em selling em for three or four hundred whatever the converter is worth they’ll try and sell but they’ve really cracked down at the used metals places at documenting where those metals came from,” said John Maxon, a mechanic at Honest Automotive.

Maxon says he thinks the issue will be reduced by local scrap yards refusing to buy these if they know they are stolen from someone and it will help the police find those responsible for taking them in the first place. Chris Burleson, the owner of Wicked Wrenches, has another theory on where the converters go after they are stolen.

“So I don’t think it’s local scrap yards that we have to worry about. Yes, there’s one or two here that they’ll come and cut off and take down there but what I have come to know is that they’ll drive around and get truckloads of these and they’ll go to Denver with ‘em,” said Burleson.

If you want to try and prevent this altogether, your best bet is to buy a cage that can be attached to the converter so it can’t be cut off easily. Additionally, having your vehicle in sight of a camera at night can help to find the person responsible if it does get stolen.