Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

There has been a rise in the theft of catalytic converters from vehicle exhaust systems in the City of Irvine and across California. The vehicles most commonly targeted by thieves for catalytic converter thefts are the Toyota Prius, Honda Accord, Honda Element, and Toyota Tacoma.

Why Catalytic Converters?

Catalytic converters contain precious metals platinum, rhodium, and palladium. The metals are expensive, and thieves can sell the converters for several hundred dollars per piece, depending on the size of the converter and the current rate on the metals inside it. These types of theft have increased across the region due to the rise in prices for precious metals.

How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft:

To avoid becoming a victim of catalytic converter theft, consider the following:

  • Park in a garage when possible.
  • Park in an area covered by surveillance video.
  • Park close to curbs to deter access underneath your vehicle.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Next time you take your car in for service, ask your mechanic to engrave your vehicle's license plate number on your catalytic converter. The etching of catalytic converters can assist Irvine PD investigations if the catalytic converter is stolen and recovered. It also acts as a deterrent for criminals, since recycling centers have been informed marked converters are likely stolen property and should be reported to law enforcement.
  • Alarm systems can be calibrated to activate upon vibration.
  • Security devices are available to attach to your catalytic converter to make it more difficult to remove.

How Do I Know If My Catalytic Converter Was Stolen?

You’ll notice a loud rumbling or roaring sound as soon as you turn on the engine if your catalytic converter is missing. This gets louder when you hit the gas. The exhaust is not working properly, so the vehicle also drives rougher than usual, often with a sense of sputtering as you change speed. Go to the back of the car and look underneath. The catalytic converter connects two pieces of piping in the exhaust. You will see a gaping space in the middle of your exhaust if the converter is missing, and you will likely see signs of the piping cut away or tampered with.

How to Report Catalytic Converter Theft:

If you see suspicious activity, such as hearing sawing/grinding noises at night, or witness a crime in progress, call 911 immediately. To report a catalytic converter theft that is not currently in progress, call the Irvine Police Department at 949-724-7200.


California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Automotive Repair

Metal Theft Prevention Pamphlet

Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention Video

Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention Graphic