How To Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft: The No BS Guide.

by | May 3, 2021

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I’m going to tell you what no one wants to hear about protecting your catalytic converter from theft. 

You can’t.

Where you park your car won’t make a difference and where you live doesn’t matter.

Depending on your car alarm to stop catalytic converter theft? It won’t

Drive an old beater you think no one wants? The thieves don’t care. (This happened to me.)

Even if your car isn’t on the “most stolen catalytic converter” list, it can happen to you.

So, what’s the best form of catalytic converter protection?  Well, it depends.

Much like the rest of life, catalytic converter thieves come in all levels of skill and preparation. If you add the right opportunity, there’s not much you can do to protect your car’s catalytic converter from being stolen.

But there are three main strategies to significantly reduce your risk. The best way to prevent catalytic converter theft is to explore the solutions below and see what will work for you.

Strategy 1: Park in a safe, well lit place with lots of traffic

This is a good idea in general.  Not only to protect your catalytic converter, but to stop other crimes of opportunity. 

However, thieves are getting more bold.  With the right combination of thief and vehicle, a catalytic converter can be stolen in less than a minute.  And it seems that bystanders either don’t notice whats happening or won’t get involved.  I’m sure you’ve seen the videos.

However, most thieves would rather work in the dark and away from a high-risk situation. 

So yes, go for the safe, well lit area over the dark quiet alley.

If you park your car in your driveway, install some motion sensor lights (they’re cheap nowadays) and try a car alarm with a tilt-sensor and vibration detection.

If you don’t want to spring for an expensive catalytic converter alarm install, we’ve seen an increase in people buying a couple of these inexpensive, self-contained motorcycle / bike alarms, and sticking them under the hood or under the car near the exhaust. For around 30 bucks or so for a twin pack it may be worth a shot. These may be the cheapest catalytic converter alarm on Amazon!

This stuff is much cheaper than than the cost of a catalytic converter. It will help give you a heads up if someone is poking around around your vehicle.

Unfortunately, a camera won’t do much for stopping theft, but it may help the police after the fact. At the very least you’ll have a video to show your friends or put on YouTube to show that this is a real concern.

The best bet: if you have a garage, clean out all of that old sports equipment and park your car in there instead!

Strategy 2: Install a catalytic converter anti theft device

Thanks (or no thanks) to the increase in catalytic converter thefts there are several different devices on the market that can add a layer of physical protection to your catalytic converter.

If your car is parked in a crowded place, most thieves won’t run the risk of spending the extra time to defeat one of these devices and move on to an easier target.  That’s the best you can hope for, but it’s a good strategy. Depending on what vehicle you drive, you may have some choices.

Here are the top 4 catalytic converter shields, locks, and cages commercially available.

Each one uses a different design to protect your catalytic converter, and ranges anywhere from $130 all the way to $270+ depending on what you choose.

So, what is the best catalytic converter anti theft device? That’s a tough question.

For every device listed here, i’ve seen both the pros and cons of each. If it was my money and I was protecting a Prius or an Element, I’d go for one of the cat shields. Anything else would get a CatClamp.

Whichever way you go, something is better than nothing…you want to make it as difficult as possible so the criminals move on to an easier target.

The CatClamp

The Cat Clamp is a unique device that uses a combination of clamps and cables to create a type of catalytic converter cage.

This cage acts like lock around your catalytic converter, providing a substantial visual deterrent and physically making it very difficult for the casual thief to steal your cat converter.

I installed one on my old Honda after i replaced my stolen cat converter, and I sleep much better at night. You can read my catclamp review here.

The CatClamp is a universal fit, and people have been able to use them on anything from Honda Civics, Toyota Tacomas, Ford Excursions, Honda CRV and fleet vehicles like Ford F150s and Chevy Express vans. 

One downside of the CatClamp is that installation can be difficult at home, but totally doable. The only special tools you’ll need are included with the kit. If you can change your own oil or are mechanically inclined, DIY install is within your reach.

If you’re not familiar with safety procedures or are uncomfortable working under your car, it’s best left to the pros.

Some people complain of rattling after installation, but that’s usually due to an install issue along the way.

Miller CatShield or CCM Cat Security Catalytic Converter Shield

If you drive one of the high target vehicles like the Toyota Prius or Honda Element, you can buy one of several catalytic converter shields to protect that Toyota Prius catalytic converter.

A cat shield is a plate of metal that attaches to the bottom of your car and guards your catalytic converter. It’s a little like a skid plate you’d find on an off-road truck.

The two big players in this market are Miller Cat Shield and CCM Cat Security. Both are easily available, at least in the US. You can buy the Miller Cat Shield directly from the manufacturer, and the CCM CatSecurity on Amazon.  There are a few subtle differences, but they’re pretty similar in design.

UPDATE: MillerCat heard about us and has offered us a discount code to pass along to our readers. Order your CatShield direct and use Discount Code : GEARIST

I like the Miller Shield a little better because of the fastening system AND they make a Stainless Steel version. Stainless is just a little more expensive, but has a higher cut resistance than aluminum models.

Catalytic converters use high heat to do their job, and Miller has also done thorough testing on their products to insure that your catalytic converter doesn’t damage itself due to extra heat buildup.

millerCat toyota prius catalytic converter protection

Photo by MillerCAT

Here’s a MillerCAT Cat Shield on a Prius V. Notice the louvers to promote airflow to reduce heat buildup. Although professional installation is suggested, If you’re comfortable changing your own oil you shouldn’t have a problem installing this yourself. Always follow safety procedures or contact a professional.

Both companies focus mostly on making Toyota Prius catalytic converter shields and Honda Element catalytic converter shields.

MillerCat has expanded their line up to include Toyota Tacomas, Tundras and Sequioas.

Because they’re model specific to your Prius or Element, installation is fairly straight forward. Both require some minor drilling for install.

If you’re installing at home and have a limited toolbox, you may need to buy a RivNut tool with short handles (Miller CatShield) or a regular old rivet tool for the CCM CatSecurity Plate. The short handles help with the limited clearance when you’re crawling under your car.

Catstrap

This device is a little different than the others.  The Cat Strap is the least expensive of the bunch, It’s basically a series of cables in a sleeve that you glue onto your catalytic converter and exhaust pipe. Like the CatClamp above, the cables make cutting off your catalytic converter more difficult.

The downside it doesn’t look like a substantial physical deterrent like the other options. They do provide a sticker that a thief probably won’t see when under your car in the dark, but every little bit helps.

You can also pair this with the CatEye Electronic Catalytic Converter Alarm. The Cateye is a motion sensor alarm just for your catalytic Converter. I really like the thought of this and you can purchase this separately from the CatStrap.

The Catstrap has the easiest setup for a DIY protection installation. Out of the box it requires no special tools. It uses a heat activated adhesive, kind of like a peel-n-stick setup. They do recommend adding on some additional generic clamps as additional “hard” protection.

Catlock

The Catlock is another clamp and cable device catalytic converter lock, although not as substantial as the CatClamp. They were available on Amazon, but it seems that they’re not available there anymore.  I can’t find the Cat Lock for sale any place else.

DIY Catalytic Converter Lock

It seems that there are some resourceful people out there coming up with their own DIY solutions.  Most of them involve rebar in one way or another. 

Some weld a piece or two lengthwise (like the Catstrap above) to provide more cut resistance. Others go all out and make their own rebar catalytic converter cages. 

If you’re handy with those kinds of things, go for it.

Whatever you do, do not weld your catalytic converter to the frame or make a hard, inflexible connection. Your exhaust system is designed to move around a little bit, and that hard connection can cause other issues down the road with other components.

Strategy 3: Get Rid of your Catalytic Converter

The only real way to prevent your catalytic converter from getting stolen is not to have one! That means buying an electric car. Seriously though, If you’re not ready for an electric car- try the two things above to keep your catalytic converter where it belongs.

Questions? Comments? Tell us below!

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35 Comments

  1. Jeffrey

    I drive a Ford E350 bus. This week my catalytic converter has been almost stolen twice. I’m looking for some kind of theft deterrent. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Jeffrey.

      I’m assuming your e350 bus is on a van cutaway chassis? The only off the shelf option that stands out is the CatClamp Maxx. However, with the e350 you have the advantage of having an actual frame instead of unibody construction like most passenger cars and SUVs. That opens up alot more room and attachment options for a DIY / homebrew solution, like a rebar cage to protect your catalytic converter.

      I can’t remember off the top of my head if the e350 frame measures out the same as the f-series pickup trucks, but you may want to look into that and see what kind of skid-plate options are available and if they’ll cover your catalytic converter.

      Reply
    • Wanda

      Jeffrey,
      I have Ford E350 shuttle buses and I have the Catstrap on all of them. I have not had anymore problems since they tried to steal one catalytic converter from my business yard. Good luck, the Catstrap is working for me since June 2021.

      Reply
    • John McEntore

      The idea of driving an “old beater” is false. These are actually the cars targeted the most. 1993-2003 car models, specifically Honda and Ford trucks have cats that are filled with precious metals such as Rodium, Palladium, and others which, per ounce, are worth more than gold right now. More modern vehicles however, with better technology, their cars are mainly filled with Titanium and metals that are essentially worthless on small quantities. My mechanic is currently treating a new Cat-mounted alarm but the truth is, until laws enforcement cracks down on the scrapyards and mechanics buying the illegal parts, this problem will persist and there is little that can be done.

      Reply
  2. Jay

    Kevin-

    You can buy the CatClamp directly from CatClamp.com or try one of the many online auto parts stores. Although you may save a few bucks NOT buying from CatClamp direct, sometimes the manufacturer can provide support that the online shops can’t.

    Good Luck!

    Reply
  3. Joy

    Hi
    Right now in my neighborhood the Honda CRVs are being targeted. I have a 2010 CRV. Would the Millercat work on my car?

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Joy.

      MillerCat has been listening and expanding their line up to include Toyota Tacomas, Toyota Tundras and Sequoias, but nothing for the Honda CRV- yet. We’re getting alot of traffic from Honda CRV owners wanting Catalytic converter protection, but looks like the best bet at this time (November 2021) for something “off the shelf” would be the CatClamp or the CatStrap.

      I’ve mentioned before that I’d like something like the MillerCat for my Honda because of the clean looks. In reality though, my CatClamp has been going on 4 trouble free years and its underneath the car where i really don’t see it.

      Hopefully, once you have ANY device installed, Catalytic Converter theft on your CRV is something you can cross off your worry list!

      Good luck!

      Reply
  4. Dee

    Hello,
    Can I use the Cat clamp on a 2013 Hyundai Elantra? I don’t know what I would use and I’d like to get something to ease my mind!

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Dee. Thanks for stopping by.

      If I remember correctly, A 2013 Hyundai Elantra has two catalytic converters, one built into the manifold up at the engine and one underneath the car as part of the exhaust run. You’d be looking to protect the secondary one.

      I personally have never installed a CatClamp (or any other Catalytic Converter device) on that specific vehicle.

      The standard CatClamp is meant to be a universal fit, which really means “the CatClamp may or may not fit”. However, I’ve seen CatClamps work on a surprising range of vehicles. It’s designed really well. After I called CatClamp and got a “it should fit” on my Honda, i was a little sceptical. But it did fit without a problem.

      I also recall your Elantra has a plastic splash shield under the engine. That may block some areas that would be ideal to wrap the cable around.

      Good Luck!

      Reply
  5. John Hibert

    Need theft cover for 96 Ford E 350 Cutoff van. 7.3,gas engine

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi John.

      Check out the reply to Jeffery about his E350 Bus, which is most likely a cutaway. Bottom line, if you’re looking for something off the shelf, check out the Cat Clamp.

      Reply
  6. Robert A

    I have a 2012 Subaru Outback which I’ve maintained well and is excellent condition. Which of these anti-theft devices do you recommend that would be compatible with my Subaru? Thanks.

    Reply
  7. Rawson B. H

    I have one question for you. Isn’t it possible that a thief could cut the exhaust pipe on BOTH ends of the anti-theft device, defeating its purpose?

    Reply
  8. Jay

    Hi Rawson.

    If you’re talking about one of the shields, you’re only going to have access to the back half of the exhaust.

    With the CatClamp, you can cut the converter off like you’re thinking, but then you’d have to cut 4 cables that are securing the whole thing to your vehicle.

    Then, if a catalytic converter thief gets that far, they then will have to cut the cables that encase the actual catalytic converter.

    Check out the comments on this page https://www.gearist.com/cat-clamp-review-honda-catalytic-converter-theft/ where I go into a detailed description.

    You’ll never be able to stop a determined thief. The best you can do it make it as difficult as possible to steal your catalytic converter so they’ll move on to some one else’s!

    Reply
  9. Shari

    Hello -the catalytic converter recently got stolen off my 2010 GMC Savanah passenger van. I had never heard of this happening before. The GMC dealer has nothing to offer me as far as protection from it happening again. What would be the best shield/strap/or clamp for this large vehicle that is high off the ground? What type of professional would install it for me? Will they install something I buy, or only if I buy it from them? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Shari.
      Sorry to hear about your van. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that we don’t think about until it happens to us. And it’s happening everywhere- every type of neighborhood to every type of vehicle.

      But back to your Savanah…I’d suggest the Cat Clamp MAXX. Not sure if you checked out my review of the CatClamp here.

      As far as installation, if you know someone who is a “car person” that likes to tinker, it’s a 2 hour DIY job tops, especially on your van. Otherwise, as I’ve said to Kathryn and Paige in the comments:

      Make a few phone calls to some independent garages and muffler shops and see if they heard of the CatClamp. Start the conversation with “My catalytic converter was stolen, do you have any experience with the CatClamp?”

      I’m sure you’ll get a couple of “Huh?’s” before you find one, but I’m sure somebody local can help you out.

      Wish you lots of luck- Let us know how it works out!

      Reply
  10. Victoria

    Hi! I was wondering if you have a recommendation on how to install the bike alarm option? I’m googling and not seeing a good video, but this seems like the best option I could afford right now. Just not sure where to install it.

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Victoria.

      There’s a company which I won’t even mention that is taking what looks like the same alarm, throwing in a couple 2-cent metal zip ties and a small piece of heat tape then charging twice as much as you’d pay for these alarms on Amazon. You can watch their install video here.

      To be honest, not so sure about their strategy. I’d wan’t it pointing down, but kind of hidden near my catalytic converter because if these work how I think they do, they’re easy to bypass where they have it mounted in the video. But i’ve been hearing so much about these that I’ve got a few coming my way for testing. Planning on using zip ties and heavy duty velcro to mount them somewhere else, away from an easy access point.

      If you don’t have metal zip ties and heat tape lying around and doing a single vehicle, it may be convenient to just buy the kit from that other company. However, if you’re doing multiple vehicles, just buy the metal ties and heat tape.

      Alarm 2-Pack
      stainless zip ties.
      heat tape

      Let us know how it works out for you! Good Luck.

      Reply
    • Robert

      Victoria, I am also looking for some type of an alarm. In this particular model that Jay mentions (of which there are extremely similar ones on Amazon for bikes, etc.) the reviewers mentioned a few concerns and I have a few too. Can you imagine crawling under the car to replace those 3x AAA batteries every 6 months or so? And reviewers on the bike alarm model said that you can get in a situation with a weak or dead remote battery and be unable to turn off or disarm the darn thing. Muffler shops would not do any type of welding cages or bars on my 04 Accord and I gave up locating a shield as none were being made (~ 5 months ago). Now that mine has been stolen this past week, I see that Miller is finally making one (others makers, still not making them). Hope that helps.

      Reply
      • Jay

        Robert-

        Thanks for chiming in about the alarms. I’m firmly in the camp of “you get what you pay for”.

        I was holding off on saying anything out in the open about those inexpensive alarms until I got to try them, but one concern is like you mentioned- longevity, both with the battery and having it directly exposed to the elements on the bottom of the vehicle- especially here with New England winters. That’s why I say “buy the two pack!”

        They seem to work as intended, but i’m looking to test it somewhere low inside the engine compartment where it’s easy to access for the vehicle owner, protected from the elements, and tough for a thief to find. Probably will try mounting it with heavy duty velcro and 3M VHB tape.

        I can’t say for sure yet, but if all the volume comes out of the front of that little device, the noise is easy to overcome by just putting your hand over it. Think about when you have your hand covering your mobile phone speaker.

        The problem I have with the Fast Guard Catalytic Converter Alarm instructions is the location, AND the fact that they give you stickers to put on your car. A mildly educated catalytic converter thief would see the sticker, know where to look for the easily accessible alarm and just have a partner put their hand over it or a quick wrap of duct tape to muffle the noise then get to work stealing your cat converter.

        I do think the Amazon catalytic converter alarms can be an inexpensive part of your strategy for protection, but just not out in the open.

        Reply
  11. Frank

    Hello, Will your product work on a 2009 Kia Sportage?

    Thanks,
    Frank

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Frank.

      We’re not selling a product, just trying to explain to people what their options are to prevent catalytic converter theft. The two anti-theft options that may work for your vehicle are the CatClamp or the CatStrap. Unfortunately, no one we know of makes a protector shield of any kind for the Kia Sportage.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  12. Lisa T

    Hello. I have a 2019 Kia Sorento. Can you suggest which anti theft device would be best for catalytic converters? Thank you so much!!

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Lisa.

      If your Sorento was anything like the 2019 i’m familiar with – 4cyl, AWD, the “expensive” cat is up near the engine, and there’s a secondary one underneath. I’d say Cat Clamp!

      Reply
  13. Julie Woods

    Miller Cat Shield wouldn’t take the discount code “Gearist”!

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Julie.
      Did you try “GEARIST” (all capital letters, without the quotemarks)? I think the MillerCat discount code is case-sensitive.

      We’ve had a bunch of people reach out to thank us, and this is the first we’ve heard of any issues. Let us know…their customer service is excellent and will look to see what’s going on if there’s a persistent issue.

      Thanks!

      Reply
  14. Cynthia

    What to install to protect catalytic converter on 2010 Honda Fit? I’ve looked all over internet and can’t find one that says it will work on it. There’s NAPA’s cat clamp … can’t tell if it will fit this car or not. Called local Honda dealer and they were no help. Thanks for any help.

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Cynthia.

      Unfortunately, i don’t know the model year of the Fit that i’ve seen the install on. Can’t recall if it was an older 2007-2012 Honda Fit or a 2013+ Fit. I do remember the owner saying it was a very tough fit (no pun intended), but it was CatClamp friendly.

      Reply
  15. shari

    I’m 62, definitely not handy, and drive a 2020 Ford Fusion Hybrid. The amazon link for the catclamp shows not available. So I was thinking about the bike alarm, pairing with a dashcam. But also, one of the links you have mentions spray painting your catalytic converter a bright red or blue with some high-temperature BBQ spray paint. I’ll try all 3. They are too expensive to replace as insurance doesn’t usually cover everything – not to mention it will be taking longer for these to be in stock due to fallout from the Ukraine invasion. Here’s hoping they work!

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Shari.

      Thanks for your comment. We’ll have to look into that link, but try CatClamp.com if you can’t find it on Amazon.

      I would definitely make some calls in your area to see about getting some physical protection on your vehicle like the CatClamp. It may take a little effort, but it’ll payoff more than painting your catalytic converter, etc.

      Good Luck!

      Reply
  16. Joe J

    That was so funny about the electric car. I laughed so hard.

    Reply
  17. Miss Jo

    Hi Jay, Great article… thank you for your contribution. What kind of Cat lock do you recommend for a 2022 Wrangler Sahara 4xe? Which would be most effective to deter successful vicious thieves, the Cat Strap or the Cat Clamp? Is this an easy install for auto mechanics?

    Best!

    Reply
  18. Lisa

    Do they make a converter for a 2021 Toyota Venza?

    Reply
  19. Mike

    great article! Sobering! Advice totally makes sense! I more questions than answers now though, but that’s better than being totally ignorant! Thanks, F-350 diesel dually owner!

    Reply

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