Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft
Catalytic converter theft isn’t a new phenomenon. Most years, a couple thousand of these exhaust emission control devices are stolen throughout the US. However, that number has increased about 400% since 2019 – and there’s seemingly no end in sight, as it’s becoming more common not just here in Alabama but all across the country.

Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft Statistics
Unfortunately, stopping thieves from stealing catalytic converters is one of those “easier said than done” scenarios. For experienced criminals with cordless tools, cutting off a catalytic converter takes about a minute or less – and they’re even becoming shamelessly brazen by operating in broad daylight. If they want your catalytic converter, they’re going to take it.

Even so, there are certainly a few ways to reduce your chances of waking up to a missing catalytic converter. Let’s discuss.

1. Park Indoors

The most obvious catalytic converter security method is to park your vehicle in your garage or some other secure location. If at all possible, don’t park in your driveway or on the street. Thieves have been known to pass through neighborhoods and saw off catalytic converters while homeowners saw logs (aka. sleep).

This is the only catalytic converter theft protection that is guaranteed to deter criminals. If you don’t have a garage, try these other options.

2. Invest in a Catalytic Converter Lock

Remember those steering wheel locks from the 1990s? Take that type of anti-theft application and apply it to your catalytic converter. These security devices come in all sorts of forms, from welded metal cages to durable steel plates, and they aim to deter would-be thieves from going to town on your converter. They aren’t foolproof, but they will certainly deter criminals who don’t want to deal with the extra hassle.

Which is the best catalytic converter protection device?

Choosing the right catalytic converter theft deterrent isn’t like picking an ice cream flavor at Big Spoon Creamery. They cost a couple hundred dollars, so you’ll want to buy one that keeps you protected from the get-go. Here are some of the more popular catalytic converter guards to check out.

Cat Shield™
The Car Shield by MillerCAT is the self-proclaimed industry leader in converter theft protection. Their products fit specific vehicles and models that are viewed as having the easiest catalytic converters to steal, including trucks, hybrids, and large SUVs. Most of their converter locks are for Toyota vehicles, however, so look elsewhere if you don’t own one.


The universal CatClamp catalytic converter cages fit most modern vehicles. They’re difficult to cut through since they’re made of aircraft-grade wire and rope. Thieves may also be deterred by all the attachment points (up to 7) that need to be manually removed from the car’s frame or engine brackets. CatClamp locks for catalytic converters have also been around for over a decade, so you can trust that they’re effective.

Advertised as a theft deterrent that requires 10x more time to cut through, Catstrap is made of hidden aircraft-grade steel cables that can even damage a cheap saw blade. It’s bright orange, too, which can deter thieves outright. Aside from a cheap DIY catalytic converter lock, it’s also the least expensive option on this list. (They also sell Cateye, an alarm system that activates a 130-dB siren when tripped.)

Always speak with your muffler repair shop or auto service center for assistance and installation. 

3. Spray Paint

Police have recommended painting catalytic converters, end to end, with bright, high-temperature spray paint. If thieves try to sell it, they’re going to have to remove all that paint. Criminals may see the painted catalytic converter and take a hard pass on it since it will take too much effort to remedy.

This is one very cheap DIY catalytic converter protector to help deter thieves, as spray paint products for grills usually cost under $10.

4. Motion Sensor Lights

Although thieves are stealing catalytic converters in broad daylight, that doesn’t mean they willingly seek attention. With a motion sensor light near where you park, you may be able to scare off these thieves before they even try to slide under your vehicle.

5. Set Up an Alarm

You may be able to modify your vehicle’s alarm sensitivity, though that’s not the norm. Instead, you can install a catalytic converter alarm system. The Cateye alarm (see above) is an option, as is this Fast Guard Alarms anti-theft device, which emits a 113-dB noise when it senses vibrations. There are other similar catalytic converter security alarms you can buy, as well.

6. Etch Your VIN

This may not stop your catalytic converter from being stolen, but it will help police catch these criminals and trace the recovered converter back to you. You may even be able to sell it and make up some of the original costs to replace your stolen catalytic converter.

7. Drive an Electric Car

Most stolen catalytic converters are taken from hybrid cars (like the Prius). This is because hybrid vehicles burn less fuel, which uses fewer precious metals in a catalytic converter, essentially making them more valuable.

2022 Nissan Leaf near Birmingham, AL
Electric cars, like the 2022 Nissan LEAF, don’t emit exhaust so there’s no need to utilize a catalytic converter at all. Not having a converter to steal is the ultimate way of stopping catalytic converter theft.

Interested in buying an electric car in Birmingham? If you’ve been a recent victim of catalytic converter theft, we bet that sounds appealing. Contact Jim Burke Nissan, your Nissan dealership near Hoover, at (205) 390-7564 to learn more about electric vehicles or to order a LEAF. We can also help you order and install a new Nissan catalytic converter, if you’re keen on keeping your current vehicle. 

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