How to deter a catalytic converter thief

Police, mechanics and insurance adjusters suggest certain precautions to deter catalytic converter theft, often referred to as a crime of opportunity.

– Know if you are a target: Check with your neighborhood mechanic or do a quick Google search to see if your car is a common target for catalytic converter theft. Some models, especially hybrids, are sought after because their catalytic converters contain more precious metals. Know this before you buy a car, so you can make an informed decision.

– Consider where you park: Park in secure or well-lit areas whenever possible. Garages or private parking lots are ideal. Thieves often target cars parked on the street and in public parking lots, even high-traffic areas like grocery stores, so move your car frequently if you can. A car parked in one place for days can be an incentive to steal.

– Install a lock: Mechanics can bolt a metal shield to a car frame to cover the catalytic converter, which costs around $350 to $500, not including installation costs. The shield looks like a cage or metal plating. But a determined thief with a saw might just spend a few extra minutes cutting, so that’s no guarantee.

– Solder the converter: Similar to the anti-theft shield, you can have a mechanic weld the catalytic converter, which makes it more difficult to remove.

– Mark or engrave the catalytic converter: Using an engraver or other object with a sharp metal end, engrave something personal on the converter that could alert someone in the trade chain of theft. Experts recommend engraving the car’s VIN or your license plate number to identify the owner.

– Set up a security system: Many Portlanders have “caught” someone stealing their catalytic converter with a security camera like the Ring doorbell. Although surveillance does not prevent thefts from occurring, it can provide evidence to the police or an insurance claim. Insurance companies recommend installing motion-sensitive lights to help deter a thief at night. Or calibrate your car alarm to sound when it detects vibrations.

– Benefit from all-risk insurance: Coverage can pay for half or all of the cost of replacing a catalytic converter. If you only have liability insurance, you will have to pay out of pocket. If you own a car that’s a common target, experts suggest lowering your deductible in case it happens to you.

– Become friends with your neighbors: Several Portland residents who spoke about their experiences with The Oregonian/OregonLive said they spoke about the thefts with their neighbors. Having another pair of eyes on the lookout can help you recognize anyone suspiciously inspecting cars on your street.

–Eadens Savannah; [email protected]; 503-221-6651; @savannaheadens

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