RV Catalytic Converter Theft on the Rise

Over the past couple of years, life has been unique. Things that we didn’t necessarily think about before are now front and center in our lives. But, unfortunately, some of these things can test even the calmest of souls. One example, which can be costly, is the rise in the theft of catalytic converts from vehicles. I’ll explain more later, but thieves have been increasingly targeting motorized RVs for this crime. 

Just this past week, my brother was in Kansas talking with a broken-down RV owner. You guessed it; someone cut off her catalytic converter. She was hoping to get back to Texas, but supply issues kept her waiting on a dealer to see if they could get one in stock.

What is a Catalytic Converter?

Regardless of what gas or diesel vehicle you drive, it will have a catalytic converter unless it’s ancient. An integral part of the vehicle’s emission system, the catalytic converter is a metal-enclosed contraption situated between your engine and tailpipe. It uses chemical reactions to clean harmful gasses from your car’s emissions. Think of it as an automated car was for exhaust fumes. 

You probably never even thought of it before, but if stolen, the rumbling of your vehicle and the cost to replace it will likely mean that you’ll never forget it. Incidents of catalytic converter theft from cars showed a dramatic increase between 2018 and 2019. However, once the pandemic hit, it went into overdrive. A report issued by the national insurance crime group reported that in 2019, there were 3,389 claims filed; in 2020, that number rose to 14,442, more than 325%.

Why are theives stealing them?

Why are thieves stealing these? Well, the simple answer is money. Catalytic converters contain precious metals, and over the past couple of years, their prices have skyrocketed. They are also valuable as is on the black market. Depending on the vehicle and its condition, a thief can collect up to $1,000 for just one catalytic converter.

The larger the vehicle, the larger the catalytic converter. It is why thieves have been targeting RVs. Additionally, RVs can also be an easier target if left unattended. Some RV owners won’t even know there’s a problem until they pack up to hit the road, which may be weeks or months after it was parked. By then, the thief is long gone.

Replacing a catalytic converter isn’t cheap. While insurance carriers may absorb some costs, you have your deductible, and nobody wants to open a claim. Eventually, the cost comes back to the consumer. A repair can be over $1,000 or much more for large vehicles like RVs. Your best bet to address this growing problem is prevention.

Preventing catalytic converter theft

Thieves can cut out the catalytic converter in a matter of minutes using special tools or saws. Deterring them is your best option, just like not leaving expensive items on your front car seat. If you can make the process more risky and arduous for the thief, they will likely move on to a different vehicle. 

One deterrent that is becoming more common is something called guards and locks. These can take the form of heavy metal framing or cut-proof cables that surrounds the catalytic converter. The goal is to deter the thief and have them move on to a different vehicle. Learn more about the Cat Clamp here: https://catclamp.com/

Cat Clamp: https://catclamp.com/

Another essential tip is to install cameras or security lights if you park the RV at home. Don’t keep your RV stored in a dimly lit area that provides cover for the would-be thief. Instead, light up their world with motion sensor lights. Thieves are also targeting dealer lots and storage areas. Ensure that your storage area is secure and ask the facility what they do to prevent people from breaking in. Most will have cameras and lights. Request a well-lit area if you have the option.

When we think about RVing, we usually have happy memories. But, unfortunately, this one reality isn’t one of them. So the moral here is to be aware of this problem and take measures to reduce your risk. While nothing can stop a bad person from doing a bad thing, we can take steps to keep them out of our lives.

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