Blog | Doug Yates Towing


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Why Has Catalytic Converter Theft Increased?

Catalytic converters are one part of your vehicle many people rarely think about. It’s not until you start your car and realize that yours has gone missing. Catalytic converter theft has increased a lot in the past few years. Thieves are removing them from vehicles large and small, often cutting them away from directly beneath the vehicle. But what makes them so valuable? Why would someone wanna steal a catalytic converter from underneath your car? Here, Doug Yates Towing & Recovery discusses why catalytic converter theft has increased so much and ways to avoid it in 2022.

Blog | Yates Wrecker

What Is A Catalytic Converter?

A catalytic converter is an emissions control device that removes harmful gases from the vehicle’s exhaust. The catalytic converter is the second component in a vehicle’s exhaust system (behind the exhaust manifold). Patented in 1950 by Eugene Houdry, the catalytic converter wasn’t required on U.S. vehicles until 1975. This was due to stricter environmental regulations put in place during the ‘70s to reduce smog and the depletion of the ozone layer.

Why does catalytic converter theft occur?

Catalytic converter theft is common for two reasons. One, they are very easy to remove, which makes them an easy steal. Two, the precious metals—including palladium, platinum and rhodium— that the converters are made of. The price of these precious metals is soaring, reaching even higher levels than gold. 

Once a catalytic converter is stolen, it’s fairly easy for thieves to sell it on the black market. Since scrap metal rates are also high, taking a few minutes to remove them can yield a big payday for the thief if uncaught. 

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How Are They Removed?

Stealing a catalytic converter is actually fairly simple, unfortunately. Thieves typically will slide underneath a car with a battery-powered reciprocating saw and cut it right out of the exhaust line. It can take anywhere from 2-3 minutes and doesn’t make that much noise. Just that of the saw that is literally cutting it out.

Signs Of A Stolen Catalytic Converter

If you are the victim of a catalytic converter theft, you are likely to notice as soon as you turn the vehicle on. It will make a loud unusual roaring sound. If the muffler is removed as well the noise that is made will be even louder. If you notice these unexpected noises, turn the car off immediately and check under the vehicle for missing parts.


  • Park in a garage if possible. Thieves target vehicles parked in driveways and on streets.
  • Use a tool to engrave your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) onto your catalytic converter or license plate number. Then take a photo of it.  
  • Report anyone attempting to sell parts, whether online or at a business to law enforcement. Always be skeptical of low prices.
  • If you purchase a catalytic converter at a shop, ask the employee to see the part before installing it on your vehicle. The part should be new.
  • Program your car’s alarm to go off when it detects vibration.

Catalytic Converter Theft in the South

In the South, there are a number of vehicles that are targeted. The bigger the catalytic converter, the more likely thieves will go after them. Here is a short list of vehicles that have been targeted a lot in 2022. If you own one of the following, be more aware of potential catalytic converter theft.

  1. 1985-2021 Ford F-Series
  2. 1989-2020 Honda Accord
  3. 2007-17 Jeep Patriot
  4. 1999-2021 Chevrolet Silverado
  5. 1990-2022 Ford Econoline
  6. 2007-21 Jeep Compass
  7. 1993-2020 Nissan Altima
  8. 2008-14 Dodge Avenger
  9. 2011-17 Chrysler 200
  10. 2011-19 Chevrolet Cruze
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Doug Yates Towing and Recovery is located in the city limits of Chattanooga, one of Tennessee’s most vibrant business communities. Since 1946 it has been the company’s mission to conduct business with integrity and professionalism in all phases of day-to-day services. We offer 24/7 towing and recovery services for all motorists and vehicle types. Our team of tow truck technicians will help get your vehicle wherever it needs to be safely and securely. You can count on us for all your towing & recovery needs. 

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