Prevent Thieves From Stealing Your RV’s Catalytic Converter
Catalytic converter theft has been on the rise in recent years. Also known as the cat, catalytic converters are easy to access and quick for thieves to unbolt or cut away from the exhaust system. Thieves can steal a catalytic converter in minutes, and it is impossible to trace them back to the vehicle they came from.
Scrap metal buyers pay between $300 and $1,500 for a catalytic converter. This can be a lot of money for just a few minutes of easy work for a thief. They don’t care that this vital part of your vehicle’s exhaust system can cost thousands of dollars to replace. It really makes sense to take steps to prevent thieves from accessing your catalytic converter. In this article, we’ll look at how to prevent catalytic converter theft from your RV or truck.
Why do scrap metal dealers buy stolen catalytic converters?
Catalytic converters were developed in the early 1970s to help reduce vehicle emissions. Your converter uses the precious metals palladium, platinum, and rhodium to create a chemical reaction that results in fewer harmful emissions.
It’s not hard to figure out why scrap metal dealers are so eager to buy catalytic converters from thieves. On the commodity market, palladium and rhodium have really gone up in value over the last five years. While the value of platinum has fallen over the last year, it’s still worth a lot of money. To see why scrap metal dealers like buying catalytic converters from thieves, let’s look at a five-year price comparison:
Rhodium price comparison (5 year)
- August 24, 2017 – $1,095/oz
- August 24, 2022 – $14,250/oz
Palladium price comparison (5 year)
- August 24, 2017 – $939/oz
- August 24, 2022 – $2,038/oz
Platinum price comparison (5 year)
- August 24, 2017 – $980/oz
- August 24, 2022 – $877/oz
Catalytic converters in hybrid vehicles and in large vehicles (like RVs) contain larger amounts of these precious metals. This is why thieves like to target them the most. Thieves can get under a pickup truck, SUV, or RV, unbolt or cut away the catalytic converter, and be gone within minutes. They tend to work late at night or early in the morning. While having an alarm system or a camera can help alert you to their activities, you probably won’t be able to be there fast enough to interrupt them.
4 Ways To Prevent RV Catalytic Converter Theft
When it comes to preventing catalytic converter theft, it’s all about making the cat more difficult to access and less desirable. While having an alarm system and/or camera may be helpful, these things rarely deter thieves who can have your catalytic converter off and be long gone in minutes.
A better deterrent to thieves is if your catalytic converter is easy to identify and hard to reach. Here are a few proven ways to prevent catalytic converter theft from any vehicle.
Be aware of your surroundings when you park
Avoid parking in parking lot stalls that are far away from foot traffic or not well lit. Thieves like to work where they can hit multiple targets quickly in one area. Parking lots after dark are ideal territory for thieves because they can get more than one catalytic converter without anyone noticing they are there. Look for well-lit locations. Also, read campground reviews and learn more about the areas you’re visiting.
Paint your catalytic converter
Painting your catalytic converter with high visibility, high-temperature paint may make it less desirable to thieves who might not be able to sell it as easily as one that isn’t painted. If you don’t wish to crawl under your vehicle to paint your catalytic converter yourself, there are many mechanics who provide this service.
Make it easy to identify
Engrave your license plate number or VIN into the housing of your catalytic converter to make it easy to identify. That way, police can use it for evidence if a thief or scrap metal dealer gets caught. For this reason, if your catalytic converter is to identify, a thief will lose interest in it.
You can easily use an engraving tool to carve a VIN onto your catalytic converter. If you aren’t up to the task, many mechanics provide this service. It’s also a good idea to check with your local police department to see if they’ll etch an ID on your catalytic converter free of charge.
Install a cage or rebar
Most RV and auto mechanics can weld a cage or rebar around your catalytic converter for you. If this doesn’t work for you, you there are commercial anti-theft shields that help prevent catalytic converter theft. The only problem is that you will need to remove the cage or rebar if the cat needs service. However, making your catalytic converter difficult to reach will make it less likely to be missing when you go to start your vehicle.
There is no single way to prevent catalytic converter theft. However, you can make your vehicle an unlikely target for thieves by parking in busy areas and marking the cat with bright paint and etched identification. If you really want to discourage thieves, you can weld a cage rebar or shield around your catalytic converter. You can also replace your original cat with an aftermarket catalytic converter, which has a smaller amount of precious metals in it.
In addition, it is important to make sure you have comprehensive insurance on your vehicle that will cover the replacement of your catalytic converter if it gets stolen.
Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.
Lynne lives, travels, and works full-time in a Forest-River R-Pod 180 with her 2-pointers, Jolene and Annabelle. Lynne has been an enthusiastic RVer for over 35 years. And then one day in 2019, she began full-time RVing as a lifestyle experiment. She quickly fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full-time RV living. Lynne is a professional writer and has been a professional dog trainer since 1995. You can read about her travel adventures on her R-Pod Adventure blog, R-podyssey at: http://www.rpodaventure.com
Shaun Mchattie says
My automotive repair, custom exhaust shop is offering catalytic converter theft deterrent options for all vehicles.
Cardinal auto repair and exhaust. Located in Boardman OH. 5653 Market st 44512. 330 953-2828.
I had my CAT stolen from my 2000 Fleetwood Storm, $1,946.00 for a new one, the motorhome was parked outside my home.
Richard Hubert says
There must be both stronger laws against this as well as more enforcement. Have heard of Cats being stolen mid-day from units parked in large retail parking lots while owners were in grocery shopping. And from locked RV storage lots – at all hours.
There need to be severe penalties for the thieves as well as the re-cycling shops which buy these. Would also help if the chassis / RV manufacturers installed protective mounting as well as engraving Cats when new.
I would also think that the EPA would want to fight against these thefts because it forces some RVers to drive without any Cats at all – creating more pollution than needed.
Finally – we have to get away from the thought that this is not a serious problem just because it may (or may not) be covered by someone’s insurance. Just ask anyone who has had their Cats stolen about that – it is a MAJOR headache to have them replaced – only to be again at risk at future thefts.
Jay hansen says
There is nothing “vital” about a catalytic converter. Engines run just fine without them you just won’t pass a smog test.
Frank J Perri says
Interesting article with the exception of one thing. Why would you replace your original catalytic converter with an economical aftermarket catalytic unless it was stolen. Are you going use the original catalytic converter for a yard ornament ? Would it not make better sense to buy and install a replacement catalytic converter only if your original converter did get stolen ? There is no need to spend money if you don’t have to.
D boo says
Forget the converter just put in a straight pipe. God controls the climate, and all the people said amen.
Laurent Perron says
The catalytic converter does nothing to reduce the CO2 emissions. It is for processing the other pollutants like Nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, some of which help form smog.