Skip to main content

Stop Catalytic Converter Theft On Toyota Prius With This New Protective Shield

If you have not heard about the string catalytic converter thefts on Toyota Prius cars, trust me, it is real. Here is how one company is fighting back against the thieves.

If someone had asked me what was so valuable about a Toyota Prius, I sure would not have answered catalytic converter. I would have thought more along the lines of the $1500 to $3000 hybrid battery.

However, thieves have found that catalytic converters on Toyota Prius are easy money. If you have been a victim of this crime, here is what you can do to prevent it from happening again.

What Is A Catalytic Converter
A catalytic converter is a device that takes harmful exhaust gasses and passes them through precious metals. This process cleans up the exhaust and allows us to have cleaner air. They are critical, especially for the Prius, which is a low emission vehicle.

Catalytic converter possibly for Toyota products

The unit on Prius, comprising of 2 converters, can weigh in at a hefty $1500 or more depending on where you live. In California, due to CARB regulations (California Air Resources Board), you have one option only. The dealer. Other states, such as Florida and New York, have similar laws.

According to Cap City Muffler in Sacramento, California "The dealerships' list price on this converter is $2148, and by the time you replace the hardware that needs to be installed, the front gasket, the 02 sensors, and labor of the installation, you are at roughly $2500.00."
-Cap City Muffler, Owners

Aftermarket catalytic converters are typically less densely packed. While they carry the same precious metals in them, there can be varying amounts of these metals, which can be the deciding factor in how much the converters cost. There are some cheaper options out there but are typically not recommended as they do not last like the OEM converters.

Why Do Thieves Want Them
Thieves want these converters and especially the OEM ones. There are higher levels of these precious metals in them, which, when they get scrapped, can give the thief anywhere from $375 to $850 or more per converter. The precious metals, platinum, palladium, and rhodium. These metals can be made into jewelry and be protective coatings also.

These metals are the reason that thieves want them, and they want the OEM ones. OEM converters are more substantial and carry more dense levels of the metals. Toyota Prius has tightly packed catalytic converters because it is trying to achieve very low tailpipe emissions. So it makes sense for thieves to target the Prius. The converters on them will bring the highest scrap value.

If a pair of "cat thieves" can snag a few of these every day, that can add up to thousands a week. The business can be quite lucrative. Your Toyota Prius is worth more than you think.

What Can Be Done To Protect My Prius
It can take thieves less than three minutes to steal one of these high-cost converters. That is not very long, and most of the thieves make a clean getaway. This puts Prius owners in serious jeopardy.

There used to be no real way to keep thieves from stealing these until now. Enter Cat Security™, a robust aluminum plate that, once installed, provides a strong barrier against catalytic converter theft. Developed by two muffler shop partners in Sacramento, California, this team aims to stop a robbery and provide its customers with peace of mind.

2004-2009 Toyota Prius Catalytic converter cat shield.

The product is more than just an anti-theft plate, though, it has some other benefits. It is straightforward to install, requiring no welding. It uses the factory studs and comfortably aligns with your Prius undercarriage. Special fasteners also help as a theft deterrent, keeping unwanted hands out of your car. The shield also may help with the aerodynamics of your Prius, as well. The guard could translate into increased fuel economy, though there is no data to support this currently.

Getting A Cat Security Plate For Your Prius
Cap City Muffler in Sacramento California would be happy to install one of these on your Toyota Prius for around $225. The shield is a whole lot cheaper than replacing a $2500 catalytic converter.

2004-2009 Toyota Prius Cat Shield installed

If you want one but do not live in the area, no worries, they are available for sale here on Cap Cities website. Not sure how to install it? No problem, take it with you to your next oil change or service appointment and have it installed.

I am thrilled that Cap City has taken a stand against converter theft. This device will help improve the security of your Toyota Prius and hopefully increase your MPG.

Be sure to check out my other story on how to fix foggy headlights on your Toyota Prius with this one easy to use tool.

Also Watch New tech means more MPG from your Toyota Prius and Click to Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Daily Toyota Prius and Automotive News.

Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting


Stevie (not verified)    November 2, 2019 - 11:14AM

How are the thieves immune to this aluminum plate? For 3-4 minutes more they will also made off with the $200 aluminium piece for recycling.

Richard (not verified)    November 10, 2019 - 7:17AM

In reply to by Stevie (not verified)

The estimated time to remove the plate by a professional shop is 15 to 20 minutes with the appropriate power tools and a lift. The two different types of security fasteners make it a challenge. If you wanted to use a single tool to remove the shield I could only see a grinder removing them both successfully. if the noise from using a grinder isn’t a big enough deterrent to a thief then Im sure one can imagine how long it would take to lay on your back under a car and grind down 14 security fasteners and still have bolts left to deal with on the front of the shield. I don’t see this happening in 3 or 4 minutes.
The risk of getting injured from the grinder and added risk to getting caught for the amount of time spent under the vehicle I think would be a huge deterrent to any thief.

Like any anti-theft device. they are all deterrents and are in installed to put a thief at a higher risk of being caught.

I personally think that thieves would simply move on to another car without a security device in place as the extra risk could be avoided.

Another thing to note is thieves are using basic tools (chain tubing cutter, pair of wire cutters and a socket for bolts) the odds of the theives having a grinder with them to remove the plate is highly unlikely

Terry (not verified)    December 21, 2019 - 2:35AM

In reply to by Richard (not verified)

When thieves see this plate they still have 2 decisions. Leave the vehicle or stay under longer. Once a thief is under no one is seen. If thief does not get cat y thief may still damage the vehicle. I checked the Volt cat y and it way less expensive why the huge cost. However thieves can try to steal my cat y the Tesla has no such expensive item

Ron Webb (not verified)    February 22, 2020 - 12:57AM

Just a pet peeve of mine is when I see people use the term "robbery" incorrectly. In the above article, it says: " Developed by two muffler shop partners in Sacramento, California, this team aims to stop a robbery and provide its customers with peace of mind." It does not do anything to stop a robbery, but it has a good chance of stopping a burglary. Burglary is a property crime while robbery is a personal crime. Both are larceny or theft, but in a robbery, there is a personal assault; threatening with either a weapon or by physical intimidation. I am not a lawyer, but I worked security in my younger years and this difference was drilled into us.

I found this article because I saw a Prius at Safeway this evening with advertisements for this product plastered all over it. I presume that although it says they are from Sacramento, at least one of them is from Roseville. I don't own a Prius, but I was just curious what was up with the advertisements.

Tony Sanchez (not verified)    March 19, 2020 - 2:09PM

is this a problem for smog check?
do this affect the guaranty of the vehicle?
is this something that it will impact when service need to be done?

Mark (not verified)    July 18, 2020 - 2:03PM

In reply to by Tony Sanchez (not verified)

If you live in california, it may not pass the visual inspection since it has to be removed and verify the numbers on the cat, still worth it on my opinion since it only needs to be removed, but then you can reinstall it again

Erika Miller (not verified)    May 12, 2020 - 12:44AM

What years of Prius do the thieves target? I heard it was 2005-2009. 2010 and up aren’t affected. Is this true?

Kedar (not verified)    June 21, 2020 - 1:01PM

I had a question about your thoughts of an OEM replacement versus a Walker or other high quality, non-CARB replacement.

First, are non-OEM catalytic converters as "clean" as the OEM option in terms of emissions? I can't find any studies or data on this.

Second, do you see long-term negative effects on the car by using a non-OEM catalytic converter?

I live outside of California and went with a non-OEM Walker converter. I also installed a CatShield (I wish I'd done it sooner). The non-OEM part saved me at least $1,000 and I have a 2007 Touring Prius. I hope that was the right call!

Neil (not verified)    December 9, 2020 - 4:39PM

I had both catalytic converters stolen from my 2014 Prius outside my house in the middle of the night in Dallas, TX. They didn't even need to break into the vehicle, they just lifted the front of the car and towed it off to another private location where they cut out the converters, which also caused body damage to the front. Since you can cut through sheet metal pretty easily with a battery-powered reciprocating saw, I doubt a shield would have helped in my case. I'd still consider one though given it's fairly cheap and may helped when I'm parked out in public elsewhere.

Blake (not verified)    January 23, 2021 - 3:16PM

In reply to by bob (not verified)

With enough time and enough will anything can be cut through. This product was designed with this in mind though. the easiest part of the protection device that could be cut through was reinforced with stainless steel. When trying to cut through both aluminum and stainless at the same time a lot of issues arrive which make for a lengthy loud task. Aluminum being a soft metal clogs the blades that are commonly used for cutting stainless and vise Versa a blade commonly used for aluminum will get destroyed by the stainless steel. At the end of the day with all anti theft devices they are deterrents. This product was created with everything in mind. Time to remove and cut through device, materials and thickness, weight and metal cost, installation time etc all which gets passed on the the customer..

Anthony Bailey (not verified)    March 20, 2021 - 6:32PM

This is a huge problem across the board, not just for Prius owners. My question is and continues to be, why are authorities not cracking down on the recyclers buying these stolen catalytic converters? They are the same ones buying stolen copper wiring, stolen copper pipe etc... No buyer = no market.