Catalytic converter theft - how to stop it

Worried about criminals removing the catalytic converter from your car? Here are our tips on how to prevent theft of this vital component

By James Allen November 21, 2023

Under normal circumstances, a catalytic converter would only be noteworthy as being a part of your car’s exhaust system which helps reduce the harmful emissions that are generated by your car when the engine is running. However, this component has become more notorious of late due to the growing number of catalytic converter thefts being reported in the UK.

Criminals don’t steal the catalytic converter for the component itself, but rather the materials they contain. To help them turn the more harmful substances in your car’s emissions into less toxic ones, catalytic converters use rare and expensive metals such as platinum and rhodium; it’s these substances which make catalytic converters attractive to thieves.

It’s also relatively straightforward to remove a catalytic converter from a car. In many cases, they’re attached to a car’s exhaust system, which means they’re accessible to criminals who can get underneath your car. If the converter is held in place with bolts, all they need to do is remove them to detach the device from the car, though in some cases the crooks may resort to cutting tools to get at the catalytic converter.

Since catalytic converters contain these rare metals, they’re often very expensive to replace. Depending on how much damage was caused by the criminals, you may also face a very hefty repair bill if your car’s catalytic converter was stolen, too.

Thankfully, there are ways in which you can improve the security of your car’s catalytic converters, ranging from methods specifically designed to protect this specific device to more general ways to keep your car secured. Keep on reading for tips and guidance on how to prevent criminals from stealing the catalytic converter from your car.

Keep your car secure

It goes without saying that a car is much more secure in a locked garage than when it is parked outside. As a result, if you have access to a garage or somewhere you can store your car, this is the first thing you should consider to prevent your car’s catalytic converter from being stolen.

If you don’t have a garage, try and park your car on your driveway or some other place where you’ve got off-street parking. This won’t protect your car as much as it would if it was behind a locked garage door, but it will help make your car less visible to criminals than it would if you left it on the road.

Park your car in a well-lit area

This tip mostly applies to cars in an on-street parking spot, though it’s a good rule to stick to in general. By leaving your car in a well-lit area, it will be much harder for criminals to steal your car’s catalytic converter without being caught.

If you can’t park your car in a well-lit area or near a lamp post, try and see if you can install an outdoor security light nearby. This will typically be easiest if you own a fence or wall that’s near where your car is parked.

Mark your car’s catalytic converter

One fairly simple way to have your car’s catalytic converter secured is to have it marked with a security serial number. You can have this stamped onto the catalytic converter, which as well as acting as a visual deterrent to criminals should help with identifying and tracking down the part should it be stolen.

If you’d prefer a more discreet method of marking your car’s catalytic converter, you can instead have it forensically marked. This works much the same was as the serial number stamping method, but it instead involves brushing onto the catalytic converter a transparent liquid. Once dry, it will leave a mark that’s nigh-on invisible to the naked eye and can be clearly seen under an ultra-violet light. This method isn’t as permanent as stamping a serial number, though, so you may need to re-apply the liquid after a few years.

Have your catalytic converter clamped

Much in the same way a steering wheel clamp used to be a common way to secure your car from car thieves, a catalytic converter clamp can help deter converter stealers. They come in a variety of different types, from arrays of cables to cages and even solid pieces of metal, but they all do the same job of making it harder to remove the catalytic converter from your car.

Weld your catalytic converter’s bolts

If your car’s catalytic converter is held in place with bolts, you may want to consider having them welded at your local service centre, if they’re able to carry out the work. By welding the bolts, it makes it much harder for criminals to remove the converter from your car: instead of just loosening the bolts, they’d have to cut through the metal or use more specialised tools in order to detach the catalytic converter.

Of course, welding the bolts shut will make it harder to remove or replace the catalytic converter if necessary. Definitely make sure you’re okay with this before agreeing to have the bolts welded.