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Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft: 3 Ways to Protect Your RV

Catalytic converter theft is on the rise, with thieves stealing from RV dealers, mechanics, RV storage facilities, and even people’s driveways. Here are ways to protect your RV’s catalytic converter.

If it hasn’t happened to you, then you probably know someone whose catalytic converter has been stolen. That’s how bad it’s gotten.

Thieves are being incredibly bold in stealing this fairly-easily accessible part. So, common advice like “park in a well-lit place” or “store inside a secure storage facility” is not working.

To prevent your RV’s catalytic converter from being stolen, you need to take some more drastic measures. 

Our RV Lifestyle Community has even noticed the rise in catalytic converter theft. There was a great discussion in our Facebook Group about it. So, here’s what you need to know to protect your RV…

Why is Catalytic Converter Theft on the Rise?

Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft
Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

Apparently, the word’s gotten out to thieves everywhere that catalytic converters are an easy target with a high price tag. Catalytic converter theft is reportedly up by 300%!

Catalytic converters contain a significant amount of precious metals, including palladium, rhodium, and platinum. These precious metals are currently fetching high prices at recycling centers and black markets. So, they offer a big payday for unsavory characters.

Furthermore, catalytic converters are fairly accessible. If your vehicle is off the ground high enough for a person to shimmy under it, it’s a fair target. So, clearly, RVs are a main target. 

Lastly, a thief can cut out a catalytic converter in less than 5 minutes. Even the best police forces have a hard time responding in that short amount of time.

One person told me how they caught a thief red-handed and tried to scare them off. She said, “I’ve called the cops!” and the thief just laughed and replied, “I’ll be gone by the time they get here.” He continued removing the catalytic converter, got in his car, and left before the police arrived.

(By the way, I don’t recommend confronting a thief! Call the police and secretly and safely take pictures or video if you can.)

Thieves are being so bold as to break into RV storage facilities, dealers, and the like to grab as many as they can and run. And, unfortunately, they’re getting away with it time and time again.

Police and security forces are trying to get things under control but your RV catalytic converter is at high risk in the meantime. 


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How We Can Help the Police?

There’s a big reason police are having such a hard time cracking down on these thieves. 

Catalytic converters are unmarked car parts. So, even if they catch a guy with a trunk full of catalytic converter parts, it’s near impossible to prove who they really belong to. 

Police and others are recommending that auto and RV owners put identifying markings on their catalytic converters. There is a chance that these markings can deter a thief, but, more so, it’ll help police catch and the courts prosecute these thieves. 

Some people are etching or welding identification on, but an easy solution is to use high-temp, high-visibility paint. Choose a bright orange or red paint for metal that can withstand high temps. 

Technically, any identifying mark will do if you have proof (like a photo) of the mark. But it’s recommended you mark the catalytic converter with your RV’s VIN

How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

Until police are able to get a handle on this situation, there are some things you can do to protect your catalytic converter. As you probably guessed, replacing them can easily cost over $1,000 dollars. Plus, you have the hassle of replacing it. 

The main idea is that thieves are looking for an easy target. So, if you make it more difficult to get to and cut out your “cat,” the more likely they’ll move on to the next target.

1. Commercial Catalytic Converter Anti-Theft System

There are companies trying to help car and RV owners with anti-theft products designed for catalytic converters. 

Two companies I keep hearing about are Cat Security™ and CatClamp®

The Cat Security™ product is a metal shield that makes it very difficult for thieves to get to the cat converter. 

The CatClamp® is a wire rope that wraps around the converter and various parts to secure it in place. 

Cutting through a metal shield or wire is extremely difficult, so thieves will move on to an easier target. 

2. DIY Catalytic Converter Anti-Theft System

Some RVers are choosing a do-it-yourself method to secure their cat converter. 

Some mimic the Cat Security™ by improvising a metal shield or cage around the converter.

Others mimic the CatClamp® by wrapping and locking a chain or metal wire around the converter and other secure points. 

The thing to keep in mind if you DIY, however, is that you don’t want to permanently block access to your catalytic converter. If you ever need to service or replace, you don’t want to make it nearly impossible to get to.

3. External Security Measures

Catalytic Converter Protection
Think about barricades.

Some RVers install motion-sensor security systems near or under their RV that sound an alarm if a potential thief is at work. The problem is, animals can set these alarms off, too. 

Plus, as we mentioned, thieves know they can be gone by the time anyone reacts to the alarm. So, while an alarm system might deter or scare away some thieves, it’s not going to work on all.

There is another option, that theoretically is much more effective.

Remember that RVs are at particularly high risk because they sit high off the ground. Thieves can easily slide under them to cut out the catalytic converters.

So, a practical solution would be to block access to the bottom of your RV as much as possible. 

For instance, if you’re storing your RV in your side yard, park close to a wall and encircle the rest with some kind of makeshift barricade. 

The barricade doesn’t have to be particularly strong (although, of course, stronger is better). But even chicken wire can deter some thieves.

It just needs to be a pain to move out of the way or to get through. Remember, thieves are lazy… which is why they’re thieves in the first place. Bank on that laziness by putting obstacles in their way.

Are You a Victim of Catalytic Converter Theft?

You’re not alone! Share your experience in the comment section below. 

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12 Responses to “Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft: 3 Ways to Protect Your RV”

June 06, 2022at10:08 am, Beverly Cox said:

my rv was hit in a locked storage facility. Right now looks like cost of repair is going to be over 3 thousand $. The only solution is make it against the law to buy these. Thank goodness for good sam insurance.

Reply

June 06, 2022at4:10 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That is just terrible, Beverly. So sorry that happened to you. Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

June 06, 2022at7:42 am, Jim Gallagher said:

You are right. All criminals are lazy. They are doing this because they don’t want to work for a living like the rest of us. If we can make it more difficult, they are more likely to move on to an easier target.

In Arkansas, the scrap yards are required to get a photo ID with each transaction. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t dealers who are interested in buying at a discount from known thieves.

Reply

March 23, 2022at10:36 am, Julie Cunningham said:

This is a big problem where we live. Many storage yards are refusing to rent space to motorhomes as it makes them targets of thieves and the yard does not want to be responsible. We couldn’t find a local storage yard for our rig!

Reply

March 23, 2022at11:02 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That has to be really frustrating! Thanks for sharing – Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

March 21, 2022at1:59 pm, Monica Brown said:

We had our whole exhaust system stolen from our 2000 Winnebago Journey right in our driveway. Well the joke is on them as it does not have a catalytic converter. But it was a giant expensive cost to us and a real pain. We have since replaced the muffler but are having a hard time getting the exhaust pipe because of the age of the rig. Still looking for it. My have to see if a muffler shop can fabricate one for us. Winnebago says contact Freightliner and they say contact Winnebago.
Have safe travels.

Reply

March 22, 2022at10:29 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

So sorry to hear this happened to you, Monica, and what a pain trying to get it replaced. Hope you get what you need soon. Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

March 21, 2022at11:44 am, Benjamin Hu said:

I’d like to rig up a trip-wire and canister of bear spray to deter catalytic converter thieves under my RV.

Reply

March 22, 2022at10:27 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

We hear you! Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

March 21, 2022at9:25 am, Lisa Cate said:

Theives won’t bother stealing things they don’t have a buyer for. Needs to be illegal for a scrapyard to buy stolen parts & maybe put an end to this. The scrapyard shouldn’t be able to profit off of stolen parts.

Reply

March 22, 2022at10:26 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

We agree 100 percent, Lisa! Team RV Lifestyle

Reply

June 06, 2022at8:40 am, Michele Bradley said:

That’s too much like “right” … makes you wonder who/what is also profiting from this?

Reply

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