How Much is a Stolen Catalytic Converter Worth?

How Much is a Stolen Catalytic Converter Worth?

A stolen catalytic converter replacement can cost as much as $3,000 for the often-targeted Toyota Prius. Catalytic converter theft is on the rise nationwide.

Many people are not aware that the catalytic converter is the most valuable component on your vehicle for scrap. These devices are attached to the vehicle’s emissions control system and look like mufflers. Thieves have become increasingly interested in them because they contain platinum, palladium, and rhodium. These are the precious metals that transform the hazardous exhaust from your vehicle into less harmful gasses. Surprising isn’t it? Thousands of dollars worth of precious metals may be under your car right now.  

How likely is it that your catalytic converter will be stolen?

As mentioned earlier, catalytic converter theft is on the rise all across the nation. In Sacramento County, the Sheriff’s Office reported 467 catalytic converters were stolen in 2019. This number increased to 1,131 stolen catalytic converters in 2020. For the country as a whole, there were roughly 1,200 catalytic converter thefts a month in 2020. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, that is a dramatic increase from an average of 280 per month the previous year. Catalytic converter theft has increased from 3,389 in 2019 to a whopping 14,400 in 2020! 

Catalytic converter theft is on the rise for several reasons. These reasons include:

  1. The dramatic increase in price of Palladium.
  2. Increased awareness of the high value of catalytic converters amongst Individuals with criminal tendencies.
  3. Catalytic converters are extremely hard to trace once they are stolen.

Catalytic converters vary by vehicle make and model. Some catalytic converters are cheaper than others so they are less likely to be stolen. It is important you identify if your converter is at high risk for theft. Outlined below is a list of the top 3 common catalytic converters that are being targeted daily!

Commonly Stolen Catalytic Converters:

  1. The Toyota Prius Hybrid
  • The most common car that has its catalytic converter stolen is the Toyota Prius Hybrid. These catalytic converters are very common to find and are more valuable than other converters because the precious metal loading inside is high. Thieves can fetch as much as $700 per converter from unscrupulous buyers. So why is the Toyota Prius Converter so valuable and number 1 on our theft alert list? This converter has a denser loading of precious metals in comparison to other converters because it switches from gas to electric constantly. The precious metals need to compensate for the lack of heat activation thus, a larger loading of precious metals is needed. 
  1. The Dodge Ram 
  • The Dodge Ram 2500 has a converter replacement cost of $3,460. This price reflects the quantity of precious metals within its converter and it is on the watch list for many criminals. With all trucks, the catalytic converter is at greater risk than sedans because it is easier for a thief to crawl underneath and cut the converter off. 
  1. The Ford F-150
  • The Ford F-150 is the most popular truck in the United States. Being the most common truck, it is inevitable that the catalytic converters are going to be a high target. Not only is the truck high enough off the ground where someone can easily crawl under to cut the converter off, but these converters also provide the thief a solid return. A Ford F-150 catalytic converter replacement is between $1,379 and $1,405. If you have a Ford F-150 you should be very cautious against catalytic converter theft! 

Now that we have an idea of what converters are at high risk, it is important to understand the locations where these thefts are occurring the most. Also note that just because converter theft might not be prevalent in your area, it can still happen.

Here are the top 5 states that have filed catalytic converter theft reports in the first half of 2021. 

  1. California 
  2. Texas 
  3. Minnesota 
  4. Washington 
  5. Illinois

So what could be done to combat catalytic converter theft? Some solutions include: 

  1. Automotive manufacturers could make it more difficult to steal converters by installing base plates or engineering the converter closer to the engine chamber when possible. 
  2. Online marketplaces can ban the sale of all used catalytic converters. Keep in mind there are only two reasons you would purchase a used converter. One reason is you intend on selling it for recycling purposes. Another reason is that you intend to sell it for repurposing which is federally illegal.
  3. Buyers of catalytic converters can stop purchasing with cash unless they have a detailed description of the item and a copy of the seller’s government-issued photo ID. Cash transactions without this receipt method are impossible to trace. If someone is selling stolen catalytic converters for cash they are more likely to continue stealing. 

What can you do to protect your vehicle from catalytic converter theft? Follow these 3 steps:

  1. Park your vehicle in a garage or a well-lit area.
  2. Have your mechanic weld a plate over your converter to hide it. 
  3. Purchase a catalytic lock which could cost between $150-$400.

Key Takeaway:

Your catalytic converter replacement could cost as much as $3,000. The catalytic converter gets its value from the precious metals located inside. These precious metals are Platinum, Palladium, Rhodium, and as the prices of these metals rise, you can anticipate catalytic converter theft to do the same. Certain states like California and Texas should be extra aware and protective of their converters. Vehicle owners of Toyota Priuses should also explore all the options outlined to protect their catalytic converter from theft as it is the most commonly stolen converter. Is your catalytic converter safe?

Edmund Schwenk

CEO/Metallurgist of PGM Recovery Systems “The single most important factor when you sell auto catalyst from used catalytic converters is the assay, not terms! Assay transparency is paramount! Many de-canners we speak to believe they are not getting correct assays on their material. Some have de-canned, shipped to other companies and received a little more than they could have sold their whole converters for in the first place.”Mission Statement: We at PGM Recovery Systems are providing information and transparency to the catalytic converter recycling industry in an effort to promote a value system of fair dealing. As a result of providing the industry with the proper tools to increase their profits, we are developing long-term relationships with suppliers.