Home > Uncategorized > How to Keep Thieves From Stealing This $2,300 Car Part

Comments 0 Comments

When you think about protecting your car from damage or theft, you probably run through a mental checklist of sorts. Doors locked? Check. Windows up? Yep. Catalytic converter secure? Um…

Most cars have catalytic converters as part of the exhaust system, but they’re notable for more than reducing emissions. Catalytic converters get their jobs done using precious metals like rhodium, platinum and palladium, and that’s what makes them vulnerable to theft. Thieves can scrap these metals for $20 to $240, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and catalytic-converter thefts have been pretty common over the last few years.

In 2015, consumers filed 3,986 insurance claims regarding stolen catalytic converters, up from 1,058 in 2009, according to the NICB. The figures come from the Insurance Services Office ClaimSearch data, which NICB used to identify patterns of catalytic converter thefts from 2008 to 2015. Much of the rise in theft has to do with the values of precious metals, which tanked in late 2008 and have since increased. (Keep in mind this only includes insured vehicles — there are likely more thefts that don’t result in an insurance claim.)

“There was a spike of catalytic converter thefts in 2008, but likely due to the metal prices in 2008-2009, the number of these claims took a downturn. Since then, there has been a steady climb in catalytic converter thefts which is likely attributed to the growing popularity and ease of stealing them,” says an NICB report from Aug. 28.

Thieves often target trucks and SUVs for their catalytic converters, because they sit higher above ground, so it’s easier for a thief to get under them and cut out the part. (Vehicles that sit lower to the ground aren’t necessarily safe — it’s just more time consuming if the thief needs to use a jack.) Between 2008 and 2015, catalytic-converter thefts were most common in Chicago (980 thefts); Sacramento, California (850); Los Angeles (550); Atlanta (407); and Indianapolis (353). On a state level, thefts were most common in California (8,072), Texas (1,705), Illinois (1,605), Ohio (1,439) and Georgia (1,215).

Most important: It’s expensive to repair. Depending on what kind of car insurance you have, you could be on the hook for the whole bill.

“Installing a replacement catalytic converter may cost between $500-$2,300 depending on the type,” the report says. “Repair costs are driven higher since thieves work fast and often damage other areas of the car attempting to remove catalytic converters as quickly as possible.”

Ideally, you can keep your car in a garage — a significant obstacle to thieves — but there are other ways to deter theft and avoid the headache of replacing a catalytic converter. Here are some recommendations from the NICB:

  • Claim ownership. Look into etching the license plate number or vehicle identification number onto the heat shield of the catalytic converter. There are government programs that do it for free, or you may be able to pay to have it done at a dealer or local body shop.
  • Park strategically. If you don’t have a garage, park near a building entrance or somewhere near surveillance cameras. A well-lit parking area may also deter theft.
  • Lock it down. Consider adding a security system to your car, having the catalytic converter welded to the frame of the vehicle or having a cage added to protect the part. Before you make any changes, make sure you find out how it may affect any warranties you have on the vehicle.

Otherwise, you might find yourself out of a catalytic converter — and $500 to $2,300.

Situations like the theft of a catalytic converter is a good example of why it’s so important to have an emergency fund: Such large, one-time expenses are difficult to absorb into your regular budget and put people at risk of getting into credit card debt. In addition to the out-of-pocket costs and credit consequences, it’s important to note that making insurance claims can cause your premiums to rise. And on the topic of credit and insurance: In some states, insurers consider your credit history when determining your premium, so protecting your credit can be just as important as keeping your car safe from theft. (You can keep tabs on your credit standing by getting a free credit report summary every 30 days on Credit.com.)

Image: BanksPhotos

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team