Catalytic Converter Thefts – Info & Tips from the 13th District

Sergeant Juan Clas – Community Policing Officer for the 13th District recently sent out this alert regarding the thefts we’ve been seeing in our neighborhood and throughout the city of catalytic converters.

What are catalytic converters, and why is catalytic converter theft common?

Catalytic converters are devices that reduce pollution-causing emissions. Since 1975, all vehicles produced in the United States must have a catalytic converter as part of the exhaust system. The precious metals inside act as catalysts; when hot exhaust enters the converter, a chemical reaction occurs that renders toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, into less harmful emissions.

Stolen catalytic converters are sold to scrap yards for around $100 to $150, and when you consider the current prices for precious metals you can understand the demand. Rhodium sells for roughly $9,500 an ounce, while platinum pays at about $2,000.

Meanwhile, victims of catalytic converter theft are left to deal with the aftermath. There’s the hassle of a vehicle that can’t be safely driven, and the impact that has on your business. There’s the high expense of having it towed to a local repair shop. And replacement of a stolen catalytic converter can run anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Nationwide’s comprehensive car insurance for businesses and individuals covers these repairs. If you are not insured with Nationwide be sure to check your commercial auto insurance policy to ensure that you are covered.

What thieves look for

Vehicles that sit higher from the ground, such as trucks, pick-ups and SUVs, are particularly vulnerable to catalytic converter theft because thieves can slide underneath without having to jack up the vehicle to gain access to the converter. With just a few cuts of a battery-powered saw, the catalytic converter can be stolen in less than a minute.

Catalytic converter thefts typically happen to vehicles that are parked for prolonged periods of time in large lots, such as shopping centers, mass transit commuter lots or company parking lots. “Corporate fleets are particularly vulnerable, because thieves can hit multiple vehicles in a single location,” says Ekiss. “And if that happens, it can shut down a business for days.”

Smart steps for preventing catalytic converter theft

Preventing catalytic converter theft on your vehicle is a matter of common sense and some research.

1. Always park in well-lighted areas.

2. At shopping centers and other similar parking lots, park close the entrance of the building, or near the access road where there’s a lot of traffic.

3. If you own or work at a business or factory, park within a fenced area that’s busy during the day and secured at night.

4. Engrave your license plate number on the converter to make it traceable. This can act as a catalytic converter theft deterrent and help with local police investigations.

5. Purchase a vehicle security system, and make sure its set to triggered with just the slightest motion.

6. Visit a local muffler shop and have the converter secured to the vehicle’s frame with a couple of pieces of hardened steel welded to the frame.

7. Check out the different types of catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts store or on the Internet.




(n.d.). Business alert: Catalytic converter theft. Retrieved from Safety and loss control website:

Sgt. Juan Clas
Community Policing Office
937 N. Wood S .
Chicago , IL 60622
Main: (312) 746-8355
Direct: (312) 743-1271
Fax: (312) 746-6736
CAPS Email:

Remember, rather than calling 911, you may call 311 to have a police officer complete a report for incidents such as theft, criminal damage to property, lost property, and other non-emergency situations.

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