front of a semi-trailer truck

Preventing Your Commercial Fleet From Catalytic Converter Theft

Catalytic converter theft is a top concern if your business owns a commercial fleet.

Your vehicles’ catalytic converters turn harmful gasses emitted from the engine like carbon monoxide and nitric oxide into safe gasses like carbon dioxide and steam, ensuring that your fleet doesn’t produce emissions above legal limits.

There has been a troubling rise in the frequency of catalytic converter theft in New Jersey and the US at large. As per the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) data, catalytic converter theft increased by 325% in 2020 alone. Therefore, it is prudent to take effective steps to prevent your converters from getting stolen.

Here’s how to stop your commercial fleet’s catalytic converters from being robbed.

Why Are Catalytic Converters Being Targeted?

Catalytic converters contain precious rare earth metals like Platinum, Rhodium, and Palladium. These metals are highly valuable, and their prices have risen rapidly. They are a favorite target of thieves since they can be sold on the black market for a fortune.

Indeed, JM Bullion estimates that an ounce of palladium goes for $2,362 today. Rhodium is even more expensive, currently costing $18,900 per ounce. For context, gold’s current price is $1,938 per ounce, making Rhodium almost 10 times more valuable.

Furthermore, stealing catalytic converters is reportedly like taking candy from a baby. All a thief needs is a blatant disregard for the law and your company’s property, an angle grinder, a jack, and as little as one minute to get the job done. Also, most catalytic converters are located under the car towards the exhaust, so they are very easy to find.

It is frustrating to lose your converters to theft, as the replacement costs are expensive. You may need to fork out as much as $2,500 to replace each stolen converter, and your bill could even reach $10,000 if a pipe or oxygen sensor is cut.

What You Can Do To Stop Catalytic Converter Theft

Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to stop your commercial fleet’s catalytic converters from being stolen. Some of the practical measures you can take include:

Parking Your Vehicle in the Right Place

Easy access is one of the biggest loopholes catalytic converter thieves exploit. Therefore, park your commercial fleet in the right places to prevent robbers from accessing them. The most obvious place to park your fleet is in a locked garage to prevent intruders from accessing them. However, this effective step might not always be possible, so parking vehicles in well-lit areas is the next best thing.

You can also train your drivers to park close to nearby access roads or the front of buildings when making stops. These areas have significant foot traffic and are visible, deterring many thieves.

Finally, remember that catalytic converter bandits require space to get under your vehicle to access their loot. Your drivers should park on the side of the vehicles closest to the converter near walls, fences, high curbs, and other vehicles to prevent easy access.

Hiring an Overnight Security Team

If your commercial fleet is quite large, consider hiring an overnight security team for added protection. These highly trained professionals will patrol the fleet parking area with eagle eyes, and their mere presence can deter criminals from targeting your business premises. Also, they can react in real-time to prevent thieves from escaping with catalytic converters.

Admittedly, hiring these guards doesn’t come cheap, but it might be a necessary and a lower price to pay than what you will spend on replacements if your commercial fleet gets hit frequently.

Installing Surveillance Equipment

Top-notch surveillance equipment can be powerful tools in the fight against catalytic converter theft. Thieves who target your commercial fleet’s parking area will probably reconsider their plans immediately if they notice security cameras keeping watch. The great thing about surveillance equipment is that even if your business becomes a victim of theft, you might identify the criminals and recover the stolen converters.

Leveraging Alarms

Most modern vehicles with catalytic converters have factory-fitted alarm systems that detect and activate if the automobile is lifted or tilted with a jack. Therefore, you can simply remind your drivers to lock the vehicles and set the alarms anytime they park and exit. If your commercial vehicles lack standard fitted alarms, consult your dealership regarding the possibility of installing an effective and approved alarm system.

Marking Your Converters

You can also engrave the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) onto each converter to uniquely identify them. This marking makes it easier to identify your commercial fleet’s converters and can alert scrap dealers when thieves try selling stolen converters to them. You can also engrave your vehicle’s license plate numbers for an added layer of identification.

Spraying your converters with quality, bright-colored, and high-temperature automotive exhaust spray paint is also worth considering to prevent them from being stolen.

Adding a Lock or Guard

Guards and locks for the underside of your vehicles are also effective in theft prevention, so keep this in mind. Manufacturers like Toyota offer “Catlocs” to prevent your converters from getting stolen. You can also invest in CatClamps that grip your vehicle’s exhaust pipes, protecting your converters.

CatClamps make it very difficult for thieves to steal your converters, especially if they are in a hurry. Your mechanic can also fit makeshift ‘cat cages’ for additional protection or weld bolts shut to make them almost impossible to loosen. However, alert your insurance provider of any vehicle modifications to check if they might affect future claims.

Insuring Your Commercial Fleet

It is advisable to take out a comprehensive coverage policy, such as business automobile insurance, from a reputable insurance agency in New Jersey. This policy will not prevent theft, but will pay to replace stolen converters and repair any damage caused during their removal.

Choose Us for Your Business Auto Insurance Coverage

At Harrah & Associates, we provide comprehensive coverage to protect a wide range of vehicles used by businesses, including trucks, vans, buses, and taxis. We also have decades of experience in the insurance industry and can tailor our policies to suit your specific needs and budget.

Reach out to us today at (609) 587-8030 to get started