Catalytic converters are valuable to scrap metal dealers, in part, because they contain precious metals.

A converter is an emissions control device that has precious metals — platinum, palladium, rhodium — that act as catalysts. Platinum is often used as the catalyst for the converter, which reduces nitrogen oxides to nitrogen and oxygen, and oxidizes carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide and unburned hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide and water.

Craig Heiser, owner of University Automotive in Sacramento, California, says catalytic converters on Toyota trucks and SUVs in the 1990s to late 2000s are especially vulnerable to theft because those converters have a higher recycle value because of the metal from which they’re made. Thieves don’t seek out aftermarket converters as often because they don’t contain as many of the valuable metals they’re after. It typically only takes a thief a couple of minutes to remove a converter with a saw or wrench.

To prevent catalytic converter theft, use common sense and follow these tips:

  • Always park in well-lighted areas
  • At shopping centers and other similar parking lots, park close to the entrance of the building or near the access road where there’s a lot of traffic
  • If you own or work at a business or factory, park within a fenced area that’s busy during the day and secured at night
  • Engrave your license plate number on the converter to make it traceable
  • Purchase a vehicle security system and make sure it’s set to trigger with just the slightest motion
  • Visit a local muffler shop and have the converter secured to the vehicle’s frame with a couple of pieces of hardened steel welded to the frame
  • Check out the different types of catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts store or online

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