Skip to content

Catalytic converter theft on the rise in Ontario - Heres's how to prevent it

Insurance claims for catalytic converter thefts increased by over 1,700% between 2018-2022.

Catalytic converter theft is a growing problem in Ontario, and no vehicle owner is immune. It doesn’t take much time for a thief to jack up a vehicle, crawl underneath, saw off a catalytic converter, and disappear. 

To give you an idea of how quickly this problem has grown, claims for catalytic converter thefts increased by over 1,700% between 2018-2022, according to a report from Allstate Insurance. 

Why do people steal catalytic converters? 

Catalytic converters are designed to act as a line of defence against harmful exhaust emissions by turning pollutants into harmless gasses. The technology used in these emission control devices includes many precious metals — like platinum, palladium or rhodium – making them a valuable item to steal and resell. 

Experienced thieves can remove a catalytic converter in minutes, especially with modern power tools. Plus, there are no tracking systems on a catalytic converter. 

Catalytic converters are increasingly a target for thieves due to: 

  • The current market value of a catalytic converter’s precious metals 

  • The ease of removing a catalytic converter for an experienced thief 

  • The inability to track catalytic converters 

Allstate data also shows the average payout to repair a vehicle with a missing catalytic converter was approximately $2,900 in 2022, an amount that rose 21% over the previous year and is up 81% from 2020. 

Because advanced models of catalytic converters include even more precious metals than older models, thieves have an increasingly attractive opportunity to make quick cash. 


Cars that are often targeted for catalytic converter theft 

Fuel-powered vehicles manufactured after 1974 have catalytic converters, so there are a lot of cars on the road that might appeal to catalytic converter thieves. However, thieves often target taller vehicles, like pickup trucks or SUVs, because they can easily fit under the vehicle to access the catalytic converter. 

Another attractive target for catalytic converter thieves is hybrid cars, specifically the Toyota Prius, according to Forbes. Because hybrid cars don’t run as hot as gas-powered vehicles, their catalytic converters offer an even greater supply of precious metals. 

How to tell if your catalytic converter has been stolen 

You may not be able to tell if your catalytic converter was stolen until you start the engine. When the catalytic converter has been removed, your vehicle will make a loud roaring sound that’ll get louder as you push the gas pedal. You may also notice an increase in exhaust fumes or unusual exhaust smells.  

5 ways to protect against catalytic converter theft

Consider these tips to help protect your car from catalytic converter theft: 

  • Know if your car is a likely target: hybrids, SUVs and trucks have valuable or easily removable catalytic converters.  

  • Etch your license plate number or VIN onto your catalytic converter — this may help alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen and make it easier to identify the owner. 

  • Park in well-lit areas close to public entrances, regularly move your car’s spot or use a closed garage. 

  • Install an anti-theft device. 

  • Install motion-sensitive lights and cameras in your parking area. 

  • Paint your catalytic converter to deter buyers – some local police departments even offer free programs for painting or etching. 

Understanding when your car might be a target for catalytic converter theft is key to preventing it. And by following protective measures, you may help deter thieves from targeting your car.