September 2021 STOMP

Safety Topic of the Month

Catalytic Converter Theft Awareness and Prevention


Catalytic Converter

What is a catalytic converter?

The catalytic converter is pictured to the left. It converts harmful pollutants into less harmful emissions. The catalytic converter is stolen and sold for the expensive metals it contains, such as platinum, palladium, rhodium, or gold. Thieves can sell one from about $50 to anywhere up to $800 in some cases, but it costs up to $2,000 for the owner to replace it.


Weak Point For Cutting

How is it stolen?

Thieves use handheld electric tools to cut through pipes or remove bolts, which often takes less than 2 minutes. The most common type vehicle to be targeted in this theft is vehicles with high clearance, such as trucks, SUVs and buses. The number one vehicle targeted is the Toyota Prius because it is a hybrid and has the largest amount of expensive metals in its catalytic converter.


Other Weak Point For Cutting

How can I prevent my catalytic converter from being stolen?

  • Install a metal cover over parts of (such as thin connecting pipes which are easier to cut), or over the entire converter.
  • Have an identifying number etched onto the converter, such as the vehicle’s VIN.
  • Weld the bolt heads attaching the converter, or sheer off the heads.
  • Park in a well-lit area with high pedestrian traffic or cameras in the area, or in a parking structure.
  • Report suspicious behavior or vehicles in the parking lots. You can report by phone, emergency blue phone, or the Lobo Guardian App on your phone. Do not delay reporting. Police can identify and catch people searching out targets for theft.

UNM had 6 catalytic converters stolen off vehicles in 2020, but there are already 17 stolen in 2021 to date. ABQ Metro reported 338 catalytic converters stolen in 2020, and Nationwide the amount was 14,433.