Ask Amy: Two things you can do to deter catalytic converter theft

We don’t have to tell you - trucks are the most popular but all vehicles can be a target for catalytic converter thieves. Houston Police Sergeant Tracy Hicks with the Auto Theft Division talked with me about what you should be doing to not just prevent theft - but how you might be able to get your converter back if it is stolen.

Label your catalytic converter, and spray paint it too

First - etch the last eight numbers of your vehicle identification number on your converter. You should also spray it with high-temperature paint. This helps police when they do find people with a stash of converters.

“So now if I see two red ones in there, our patrol guys are like, ‘Well, there’s a painted one.’ The paint lets us know to pick it up and look for a number. Even if we find it in a metal scrap yard, you know, we see painted ones, we’re going to double-check those painted ones for numbers. Then we can get some charges. Now you’re in possession of the stolen property, we can take them from them and even return back to the owners,” explains Hicks.

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It’s also harder to re-sell catalytic converters that have markings and paint on them so taking them is more of a deterrent.

Skid plates over cages for under the vehicle

To protect your catalytic converter Sergeant hicks says your best option is to add a skid plate under your vehicle instead of a cage. With cages, you might have to buy multiple cages to cover each area but a skid plate will cover more area. He also says there is not a “most popular” time thieves target vehicles - but most catalytic converter thefts seem to happen during the day in crowded parking lots.

People are often shocked to learn repairs can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 for some vehicles and because of the increase in thefts, many of these parts are on backorder. You may be waiting on them for more than three months.

Right now, the in Houston are the most popular vehicles targeted by catalytic converter thieves are Toyota Tundra, Prius, and Tacoma along with the Ford F-250, Honda Element, and Honda CRV. The Prius is also a popular target in other areas but thieves would have to use a jack to get under it, so that’s often a reason they choose to skip it.

Free events where you can get etching on your converter

You can hear more from my interview with Sgt. Hicks on the full Ask Amy episode.

If you have a question or topic idea for me, email!

About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.