Theft of a catalytic converter: Can a simple piece of equipment prevent it from being stolen?

Catalytic converter guards are cheaper than replacing an entire converter

PORTLAND, OR (KOIN) – An Oregon auto expert shares tips on how car owners can combat a wave of catalytic converter thefts that have driven motorists crazy.

Heather Ogawa, automotive advisor at Affordable Tire in Portland, said she started noticing an increase in stolen car parts early in the pandemic, in early spring 2020.

Catalytic converters in Honda Element and Toyota Prius models were among the first targeted, she said, but every car is on the chopping block.

“Any car is a target because there’s metal in every catalytic converter,” Ogawa said.

Although garages are the best form of protection, not everyone has the opportunity to store their vehicle there.

For those drivers, Ogawa suggests investing in a catalytic converter protector.

“Worth it if you don’t have a garage,” she says. “We’ve had the same cars two or three times with catalytic converters stolen without protection, insurance keeps paying and insurance rates go up – and they probably will, with the cost of theft constant.”

Protectors can cost up to several hundred dollars, but pale in comparison to the alternative; replacing a complete catalytic converter can cost around $3,000.

Ogawa said the guards aren’t impenetrable, but they are a huge obstacle for would-be thieves.

“From what we can see, there’s probably a 95% to 100% success rate for drivers who have a catalytic converter protector,” she said. “It slows them down to the point that even if they tried, you could probably catch it before it happened.”

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