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Catalytic Converter Cage for Your RV or Car: Stop Theft!

Catalytic Converter Cage for Your RV or Car: Stop Theft!

According to the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau), catalytic converter theft has increase 1,215% since 2019 (yes, you read that right: one thousand two hundred fifteen percent!). This statistic alone illustrates why so many vehicle owners are considering adding a catalytic converter cage.

But there are also other things we, as RV and vehicle owners, can do to protect our catalytic converters. Not that long ago, we had an attempt made to steal the catalytic converter on our Honda CR-V, so we’ve done a little research.

In today’s post, we want to share what we learned with you so that you can take certain actions that will make the theft of your vehicle’s catalytic converter less likely.

What Is a Catalytic Converter?

A catalytic converter is part of a vehicle’s exhaust system that reduces the pollutants from diesel and gas engines. They do this by reducing toxic compounds in the exhaust to their component elements: carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and hydrogen & oxygen (in the form of water: H2O).

The Clean Air Act of 1970 authorized the development of state and federal regulations that would limit toxic emissions from mobile and stationary industrial exhaust. Five years later federal law would state that all motor vehicles manufactured after 1975 must have a catalytic converter.

Why Are Catalytic Converters Stolen?

Catalytic converters are targets for theft because they contain precious metals such as platinum, rhodium, and palladium.

They’re also very easy to steal, requiring only a few minutes with a battery-operated saw. Experts estimate that it takes about 30-60 seconds to steal a typical catalytic converter from under a vehicle.

A new exhaust system with catalytic converter

This photo of an exhaust system with illustrates how easy it is for a thief to quickly slide under the vehicle and use a battery-operated saw to slice off the catalytic converter and run.

In fact, cars with sufficient tire clearance to allow thieves to quickly slide under (pickup trucks, SUVs, and RVs) them are especially at risk.

Hybrid and luxury vehicles are also at higher risk because their catalytic converters typically contain more precious metals than others.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Catalytic Converter?

Depending on the vehicle, a catalytic converter can cost as little as $900 up to as much as $3,500 to replace. This is one good reason to take action to make the theft of your catalytic converter more difficult.

How Can I Deter the Theft of My Catalytic Converter?

There are a number of actions that we can take as vehicle owners to discourage a thief from attempting to steal our catalytic converters. In the end, there’s no surefire way to stop a catalytic converter thief, but each of the following actions is a good deterrent.

Catalytic Converter Cage or Shield

Installing a catalytic converter cage or shield onto your vehicle’s exhaust system is one very good deterrent. Though there is some expense involved, it’s less than it would cost to replace the catalytic converter.

Police are quick to note that cages and shields won’t necessarily stop a thief from stealing a catalytic converter, but they will slow down the thief and may discourage theft entirely. Effectively, installing the catalytic converter cage/shield makes your vehicle less desirable as a target for theft. Just note that even with the use of a shield or cage, it’s advised to park your vehicle in a well-lit area.

There are many different types and brands available, with the Cat Security Cat Shield and the CatClamp among the most popular.

Note that the following are for a variety of vehicles. You’ll need to locate the cage or shield that is appropriate for your specific vehicle.

Our goal with these links is simply to show you what different types of shields look like.

Catalytic Converter Protector Shield Defender Aluminum Compatible with Toyota Prius 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Level 2 Complete kit- catalytic converter anti theft
  • Prius Catalytic Converter Shield For 2004-2009 Toyota Prius .
  • Utilizes the fUtilizes the factory mounting points and adds in security hardware.actory mounting points and adds in security hardware.
MZS Catalytic Converter Protection Shield, Anti-Theft Cat Protector Compatible with 2016-2022 Prius Gen 4
  • Unique Material : Made of 6061-T6 aluminum material which is lighter but hard. Heavy duty, corrosion-resistant and durable.
  • Anti-theft : Once rivet screws are placed in, thieves are hard to take it off and stole your catalytic converter in minutes.
Catalytic Converter Shield Protection Defender Anti-Theft Aluminum Catalytic Converter Anti Theft Device Compatible With Toyota Prius 2016-2021
  • Do your cats get stolen often?and tried many things to do no avail? Our catalytic Converter Protection Shield Anti-theft Device can solve your...
  • Our catalytic converter shield made of high quality aluminum for lighter weight and high hardness, durable to use.
Anti-Theft Catalytic Converter Protection Compatible with 2003-2007, 2.4L Honda Accord w/OEM Converters by Miller CAT, Premium Grade Aluminum Cat Shield
  • Premium Quality: Compatible with the 2003-2007 2.4L Honda Accord with OEM converters. Please note that If you have or plan to replace your converter...
  • Designed & Built in the USA: Miller CAT’s anti-theft catalytic shields are made with premium-grade aluminum and use stainless steel tamper-proof...

Park in Well-Lit Areas or In A Secure Garage

If you have a garage large enough for your vehicle at home, it’s best to park inside the garage whenever possible. This is really the best deterrent to home theft of a catalytic converter.

If parked in a public spot, it’s important to try to park in a well-lit area. This is where we faltered. The attempt to steal the cat on our Honda CR-V occurred when it was parked in a dark parking lot while we were away for a short trip.

Fortunately, in our case, they didn’t succeed (whether they couldn’t physically complete the removal or someone came along to scare them off) and the repair (a few welds to re-attach it) was cheap. We were lucky in this situation, but heed our advice and be sure that you park in the best-lit area possible.

Paint Your Catalytic Converter

Many people have taken to painting their catalytic converters (usually in bold, bright colors) to deter theft. Essentially, what this does is alert cat buyers that the cat is stolen. It’s also a very good signal to alert the police.

Just be sure to use appropriate high-temperature paint, as your vehicle’s catalytic converter gets quite hot from the exhaust gases passing through it.

Etch the VIN On Your Catalytic Converter

Etching your vehicle’s VIN onto your catalytic converter serves in a similar way to painting it. A VIN etched onto the cat not only lets cat buyers know that it was stolen but also alerts police and identifies it as your catalytic converter (making a possible recovery more likely).

Install a Catalytic Converter Alarm

Catalytic converter alarms are a deterrent chosen by some vehicle owners. With these, a loud alarm sounds when someone attempts to remove your converter. They’re often armed/disarmed via wireless remote control.

WSDCAM Catalytic Converter Anti Theft Device 113dB Loud Catalytic Converter Alarm with Remote Catalytic Converter Anti Theft Alarm Vehicle Security Alarm System Motion Vibration Alarm for Car
  • This anti-theft alarm triggered by vibration. Attached the alarm under the car on the connecting pipe or tailpipe with included stainless steel straps...
  • DOUBLE LAYER HEAT INSULATION & EASY INSTALLATION - Two heat guard tapes with the higher temperature heat resistance can take radiant heat up to...

Install a Motion Sensor Security System Near Your RV or Vehicle

In our post on RV alarm systems, we highlighted several different types of RV alarms, among them a couple of motion sensor alarms. These types of alarms sense (and some capture video) when a person approaches your vehicle or RV.

Some will sound an alarm (or alert you so that you can sound an alarm!), and/or will illuminate the area with a bright LED light upon sensing motion. Anything that makes your vehicle less approachable will help.

REOLINK Outdoor Security Camera with Spotlight, Lumus 1080P HD Plug-in WiFi Camera for Home Security System, PIR Motion Detection, Two-Way Talk and Siren Alarm, Waterproof, Micro SD Card Storage
  • COLOR NIGHT VISION: With built-in spotlights, Reolink Lumus delivers full-color videos even when there is no light source surrounded. You can see more...
  • PIR + MOTION DETECTION: The combination of motion detection and PIR detection has decreased false alerts significantly. Besides, you can set activity...

How Will I Know If My Catalytic Converter is Stolen?

If your catalytic converter is stolen, you’ll know as soon as you start the car: you’ll hear a very loud roar from your engine that will get louder as you press down the gas pedal.

You’ll also likely see a light on your dash that shouldn’t be illuminated, most often the “check engine” light. It will light up because when you have no catalytic converter, your exhaust’s oxygen sensors will be triggered.

You may also smell an odor like sulfur gas. If you do, shut off the vehicle and get out as this likely indicates that exhaust gases are entering the passenger compartment and could indicate the presence of potentially deadly carbon monoxide.

Does Insurance Cover a Stolen Catalytic Converter?

In our post answering the question, “What does RV insurance cover?“, we talked about the comprehensive portion of your policy covering theft. This is the part of your vehicle’s insurance policy that should cover the theft of your catalytic converter. However, if you only have liability insurance on your vehicle, the theft of your cat won’t be covered.

If you’re unsure of your coverage, we’d suggest contacting your insurance agent to ask specifically whether theft of your catalytic converter would be covered in the event that it’s stolen.

Bear in mind that when a thief rushes to steal a catalytic converter, it’s possible for them to also do damage to other components in the vicinity of the exhaust system. Be sure to get your RV or vehicle to a competent mechanic as soon as you discover that your catalytic converter has been stolen.

Have You Been a Victim of Catalytic Converter Theft?

If you’ve been a victim of cat theft or attempted theft as we were, we’d appreciate hearing about your experience. The more we all know, the better we can protect our vehicles!

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Sunday 19th of February 2023

Poetic Justice

Anne McDonley

Tuesday 14th of February 2023

I had my RV in for repairs and thieves stole more than 20 catalyic converters off of all the RV's. This happened in Florida over Thanksgiving weekend. Fortunelty for all of us the police caught the guy and he's been tried and convicted. They recovered most of the catalytic converters so my cost was re-instllation. I was lucky because had they gotten away I would be responsiblefor cost of replacement minus insurance. Very frustrating so your article is timely and very useful. Thank you.

Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Tuesday 14th of February 2023

Hey guys. I've heard of things like this happen. It's crazy that people would do that. I've never understood why anyone would try to steal anything off someone else's car, never mind a catalytic converter. So far, that hasn't happened to me, but you never know. Be careful!

Rana Murzda

Tuesday 14th of February 2023

We had our catalytic converter stolen once off our RV and attempted two more times. It was parked at Camping World getting repaired all three times. Since it was their fault the repair was paid for by camping World but the damage that was caused while trying to steal it wasn't. Our bay doors were bent I assume by them trying to jack up the RV and failing. I either ask for an appointment when needing repairs or go to a mobile RV service.

Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

@TJL, That's crazy. I'm all for making money, that's why I work. How is this supposed to make people money?


Tuesday 14th of February 2023

@Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason), MONEY!

Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Tuesday 14th of February 2023

@Rana Murzda, It's insane that anyone would try to steal a catalytic converter off of someone's vehicle. I've never understood why they do that.

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