Protect your church from catalytic converter theft.

by | Aug 7, 2020 | Theft Prevention

Protect your church from catalytic converter theft.

Catalytic Converter

Protect your church from catalytic converter theft.  We have been seeing a sharp rise in theft at too many of our churches.  Being unoccupied much of the week, churches present a tempting target to thieves. While copper thefts from air-conditioning units remain a problem, we are also seeing an increase in catalytic converter theft. Catalytic converters on buses and vans present a quick and easy opportunity.  Thieves can can sell Catalytic Converters to scrap yards for as much as $200.00 apiece. But it can cost you more than $2,000.00 to replace one. Your vehicle will not operate properly with out a catalytic converter, and it’s illegal not to have one.

What is a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter is something that has been an essential element in vehicles since 1974. It plays an important role in protecting the environment and public health. A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that reduces toxic gases and pollutants in your vehicle’s engine into less-toxic pollutants. It is an unassuming-looking round canister that is part of your exhaust system, located between the engine and the muffler – usually on the passenger side.

Why do thieves want them?

Catalytic converters contain three expensive metals – platinum, rhodium, and palladium. Thieves can sell the converters to scrap yards for as much as $200 apiece. However, it could cost in upwards of $2,000 to replace it. Question: Can your vehicle get by without a catalytic converter? Answer: No. Your car will not run properly without it, and it is illegal for vehicles not to have one.

How can you tell if your converter is missing?

There will be no question if your vehicle’s catalytic converter is missing. The first time you turn on the vehicle after the catalytic converter has been stolen, you will hear a loud rumbling or roaring sound. It will get louder if you step on the gas. If this happens, you should check underneath the vehicle. There will likely be a gaping space in the middle of your exhaust and you should be able to see where the piping was cut away.

What can you do to prevent catalytic converter theft?

If you determine that your catalytic converter has been stolen, you should notify the police and contact your insurance company. Before this happens, we would like to share some strategies to prevent this from happening to you:

  • Park in well-lit areas, to make it more difficult for thieves.  When parking in a public lot, park as close to a building entrance as you can or to the nearest access road, where there is increased pedestrian traffic.
  • Effective security lighting, especially motion-activated lighting is a strong deterrent.
  • Security devices are available that can respond to the vibrations that occur when the thief tries to saw off a converter.
  • Monitor local news reports so you will know if converter thieves are active in your area.
  • Share Concerns, If you hear about catalytic converter thefts in your community or suffer the theft of a catalytic converter from one of your organization’s vehicles, consider ways you can raise awareness for others in your area.
  • Welded Bolts-  If your catalytic converters are “bolt on” you can have the bolts welded shut. This is only a deterrent to the catalytic converter thief who works only with a wrench. Still, in some cases, it might be enough of a deterrent to help prevent a theft.
  • Catalytic Converter Protective Sleeves-  Protective coverings for your catalytic converter, such as the device known as the “Cat Strap” or “Cat Clamp” can deter thieves as well. These protective devices surround the potential cutting area of your catalytic converter with hardened-steel products that make it much more difficult for thieves with reciprocating saws to steal your converter. When thieves encounter these types of devices, they will most likely move on to another less-protected vehicle.
  • Identification Etching-  Convicting a thief of their crime is difficult if they are not caught in the act of stealing. Police need proof that a catalytic converter was stolen. By etching your converter with your vehicle’s VIN number or your driver’s license number, police can track your converter back to you if they recover it after it’s been stolen. This may not protect you from theft, but it could help to catch the thieves and prevent future losses.
  • Security Fencing  Security- fencing around parked vehicles can provide some deterrent to thefts, but because bold criminals commonly cut fencing to get at multiple vehicles found in secured areas, this method works best when combined with other safety measures.
  • Live Video Surveillance -For some organizations, you may consider installing surveillance cameras that can monitor fleet vehicles. However, for security cameras to be effective, the video must be high quality and able to identify small details such as vehicle types and vehicle license plates. They should also be able to identify the thieves.

We would like to thank Southern Mutual Church Insurance and GuideOne Insurance for this information.

Also see our guidance on:

Church Security Plans

Protecting your Property during the COVID19 Pademic.