3 Ways to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

We have a few suggestions to help you protect that valuable emissions-control device.

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A catalytic converter is an important part in an internal-combustion vehicle, as it makes harmful car emissions less so. It’s also valuable, containing a mixture of precious metals to enable this toxin-reducing reaction. It’s relatively easy to access, located in plain sight beneath the car as part of the exhaust system. All it takes to remove one is a saw and maybe a jack, and thieves can perform the extraction in a matter of minutes. With cat theft on the rise, we thought we’d share a few pieces of advice on how you can protect your catalytic converter from being stolen.


Preventing theft involves putting as many barriers between thieves and their goal. Where you park is important. If you can, house your car in an enclosed garage or a secure, monitored lot. When parking in a public place, try to find a well-lit area or somewhere with a lot of foot traffic where robbers would feel exposed.

Catalytic Converter Cage

A catalytic converter cage is an effective anti-theft device. It consists of two clamps and a long, heavy-gauge stainless-steel cable. The clamps attach to the exhaust pipe on either side of the cat, and the cable threads through the clamps and around several secure parts of the vehicle, creating a metal web of protection around the catalytic converter. Cutting through it would take time and make quite a bit of noise, so thieves often move on to easier targets.

CatClamp has cages that fit most cars and trucks. The price varies depending on the diameter of the exhaust pipe (and therefore the clamps), but the lowest kit starts at $181. Anyone with basic mechanical knowledge can install it, though the task is much easier to do with the car on a lift.

Carolina Fernandez catalytic converter shieldCarolina Fernandez/Capital One

Catalytic Converter Shield

Another option to prevent catalytic converter theft is to hide the catalytic converter from view with a shield. This cover fastens to the underside of the vehicle with several bolts, adding one more obstacle for a thief to overcome. We suggest finding one with vents to allow for heat to escape. One popular option for Toyotas, Lexuses, and Hondas is the Cat Shield by MillerCat. The price varies by vehicle, but it should cost somewhere between $100 and $600.

VIN Etching

You may also wish to consider etching your vehicle identification number (VIN) into the catalytic converter and/or coating the device with vibrant, high-temperature paint — both treatments indicate to a metal scraper (and the police) that the part was stolen. You can do these tasks at home with relatively inexpensive tools (e.g., a Dremel cutter and a paintbrush). Granted, it’s not the most effective deterrent, as a thief could sand off the etching or repaint the cat, but that requires time and effort; many thieves may want an easier score. Some communities still think the idea holds merit, even holding free engraving events to help local car owners add this small layer of protection to their catalytic converters.

This site is for educational purposes only. The third parties listed are not affiliated with Capital One and are solely responsible for their opinions, products and services. Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The information presented in this article is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change. The images shown are for illustration purposes only and may not be an exact representation of the product. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.
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Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad is an award-winning automotive journalist who has contributed to several automotive, electric vehicle, luxury lifestyle, and technology publications. His work isn't just limited to the written word, as he's also hosted YouTube videos and podcasts. Having grown up in the '90s, he has a strong sense of attachment to that era's style, though he also loves to geek out about the modern, futuristic tech and powertrains rolling out today.