How to Tell If Your Catalytic Converter Has Been Stolen

Catalytic converters are crucial components in a vehicle’s exhaust system, designed to reduce harmful emissions by converting pollutants into less harmful substances. However, in recent years, catalytic converter theft has increased due to the valuable metals it contains, such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium.

The theft of a catalytic converter can lead to significant damage to your vehicle and expensive repairs. In this article, we will discuss the signs that your catalytic converter has been stolen and how you can protect your vehicle from such thefts.

catalytic converter

Loud Exhaust Noise
One of the most obvious signs that your catalytic converter is missing is a significant increase in the volume of your exhaust. The catalytic converter is designed to muffle engine noise, so if it’s removed, the noise will become much louder. This can be especially noticeable when starting your car or accelerating.

Check Engine Light
Another sign of a missing catalytic converter is the check engine light coming on. Your vehicle’s engine control module (ECM) monitors the performance of the catalytic converter through oxygen sensors located before and after the converter. When the catalytic converter is removed or damaged, it affects the readings from the sensors, causing the ECM to trigger the check engine light.

Reduced Performance and Fuel Efficiency
Removing the catalytic converter can also lead to a decrease in engine performance and fuel efficiency. The catalytic converter is an essential part of the exhaust system, and its absence may cause the engine to work harder, leading to a decrease in acceleration, power, and fuel economy.

Visual Inspection
To confirm whether your catalytic converter has been stolen, you can perform a visual inspection. The catalytic converter is usually located beneath the vehicle, between the engine and the muffler. It typically resembles a small metal box or cylinder with a honeycomb-like structure visible inside. If you see signs of tampering, such as cut or broken exhaust pipes, or if the catalytic converter is missing altogether, it has likely been stolen.

Rattling Sound
In some cases, the thieves may have damaged the internal structure of the catalytic converter without removing it entirely. If you hear a rattling sound when starting your vehicle or driving, it could be an indication that the internal honeycomb-like structure of the catalytic converter has been compromised.

How can you tell when your catalytic converter has been stolen? @UrbanAutomotiveOakville

How to Protect Your Vehicle from Catalytic Converter Theft

Park in Well-lit Areas
Thieves are more likely to target vehicles in dark or poorly lit areas, so parking in well-lit spaces can help deter them. If you have a garage, park your vehicle inside and lock the door.

Install a Catalytic Converter Lock or Cage
A catalytic converter lock or cage is a protective device that encases the converter, making it more difficult for thieves to access and remove it. These devices are relatively affordable and can be a worthwhile investment for protecting your vehicle.

Engrave Your VIN on the Catalytic Converter
Engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter can make it more difficult for thieves to sell the stolen part. It also makes it easier for law enforcement to identify and return the stolen catalytic converter to its rightful owner.

Install a Security Camera
A security camera can serve as a deterrent for potential thieves, as they may be less likely to target a vehicle if they know they are being recorded. Additionally, if your catalytic converter is stolen, having footage of the theft can be helpful in identifying and apprehending the thief.

Report Suspicious Activity
If you notice any suspicious activity around your vehicle or in your neighborhood, don’t hesitate to report it to the local authorities

Stolen Catalytic Converter Statistics in the USA

Based on the provided web search results, catalytic converter thefts in the United States have continued to rise in recent years.

In St. Louis, the number of catalytic converter thefts increased more than eightfold, from 50 in 2019 to 420 in 2020, with the trend accelerating near the end of the year and into early 2021[1].

According to Carfax data, as many as 153,000 catalytic converters were stolen in the U.S. in 2022[2]. This increase in catalytic converter thefts has affected the nation as a whole, with thieves targeting cars and trucks by brazenly sawing off converters[3].

Stolen Catalytic Converter Statistics in the UK

In London, there were 13,716 recorded incidents in 2020, making it the global epicenter of catalytic converter theft, according to the police[2]. Between 2020 and 2022, Greater London experienced the most catalytic converter thefts in the UK, with 30,128 stolen, equating to 502 per 100,000 people[3].

The problem has spread across the country, with areas such as Dorset seeing a 187% increase in 2020[2]. In the region comprising Somerset, Bath, Bristol, and South Gloucestershire, there was a 456% rise in thefts[3]. Thieves primarily target the precious metals found inside catalytic converters[3].

Stolen Catalytic Converter Statistics in Canada

In the Waterloo region, police reported 131 catalytic converter thefts in the first two months of 2021[1]. In Sudbury, there were 52 thefts of catalytic converters between June 1 and December 31, 2020[2].

Toronto police were called to a Canada Post center in Scarborough on June 28, where 15 catalytic converters were stolen from their fleet vehicles, followed by another 18 converters stolen a month later[3]. These examples demonstrate the widespread issue of catalytic converter thefts across different regions in Canada.