Catalytic Converter Theft

Catalytic converter theft is on our radar. Here at Donate a Car Canada we see the impact of this crime. If you’ve been victim to it, you well know the costs involved. Read on for a silver lining to go with the frustrating facts.


What is a catalytic converter?

The short answer (the Explain Like I’m 5 version): a catalytic converter is a device that turns bad gases into good gases.

The longer answer (from trusty ol’ Wikipedia): A catalytic agent like platinum, palladium, rhodium, or gold catalyzes carbon monoxide (CO) and unspent hydrocarbons (HC) into water and carbon dioxide (CO2). These are less dangerous to the environment. The charge of the precious metal causes the harmful molecules to be absorbed. They stick to the agent, thereby facilitating (“catalyzing”) a reaction. Harmful CO or HC is turned into water or CO2. This then breaks off and leaves via your vehicle’s exhaust pipe.

Looking for a beautifully robust explanation (with pictures!)? Check out Michael Fernie‘s article at Car Throttle, “What is a Catalytic Converter And Why do You Need One?

Why your cat’ is such a hot item

Visit CBC’s “Catalytic converter thefts rise as metal inside ‘more valuable than gold'” for the real deal on this.

Remember the precious metals that interact with the unhealthy gook our cars are chugging out? Platinum, palladium, rhodium, and gold are valuable. They come wrapped in tidy little packages that are removed from our vehicles in minutes. To an enterprising bad guy, a car parked on the street can lead to easy pickin’. Suddenly, your neighborhood prowler has a pocket full of cash, and you’re without a converter.

Real cost, real recovery

We feel the hit from this crime every week. It is not unusual for our supporting tow companies and re-sale agents to field the loss of a catalytic converter on a donated vehicle. Moreover, our donors are often unaware that the part has been stripped. In some cases, enterprising criminals replace the stolen cat’ with a cheap, after-market replica.

A cat’ can be the difference of real dollars and cents on a scrap car.
Scrap yards and tow guys alike must cover costs. While the car itself may not have much value left in metal or parts, that ‘converter can save the bank. This one little item is critical to making ends meet.

And here’s where we see the Goodness of our supporting agents come through for us! Often, despite the loss it will be to their own bottom line, our crews will tow and process the vehicle anyway. That means a charitable donation for the charity of your choice. And that’s not all: there’s a tax receipt in it for you, too!

Staying safe

You can protect your vehicle from catalytic converter bandits. For a start, make it inaccessible. Not all of us are privileged with a garage; we may need to be creative in protecting our cars. Keep your ears open (the tools needed to remove this gem of a part are not quiet). And if all else fails, be at the ready to call 911. Do not engage thieves directly. These baddies mean business and your wellbeing is worth more than car parts.

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Sandra McDonald

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