Catalytic converter theft is more than out of control. If you think COVID-19 has been bad, catalytic converter theft is ruining the lives of good people too.
Converter theft has gotten so bad now that Toyota has decided to do something about it. Their solution, however, is not as great as they think. Here is what they are going to do and why it will not stop theft from happening.
The "Toyota Way": Not Effective In This Scenario
Catalytic converter theft has made massive headlines, with the Toyota Prius being a primary target. The densely packed converters loaded with the precious metal Rhodium are worth loads of money in scrap.
What is worse, the replacement costs are even more, and they are still getting stolen at an alarming rate. So, what can you do to keep thieves at bay?
One company called Cap City Muffler came out with a product that covers the converter protecting it from thieves. The deterrent significantly increased the time required to remove a catalytic converter making it less desirable.
So far, the chatter on places such as PriusChat or some of the more popular Facebook groups people have liked the product.
But this is an aftermarket solution to a problem that starts with the manufacturer. Now Toyota has responded with a resolution of their own, etching the converter with the VIN.
The logic behind this is sound, I will give them that, but it will not deter thieves. VIN etching makes the converter traceable, so it can be returned if it is stolen and recovered.
That is all fine and good if there were not organized crime rings running these operations. When these converters get stolen, they usually end up going to places that cut out the material from within the steel shell.
The places that take them in are paid by the people stealing them, and it becomes a vicious cycle. VIN etching is a worthless attempt at trying to do something good for people. I am sorry, but Toyota could do A LOT better.
If Toyota wanted to do something that makes an actual difference, they should look at the Cat Security™ product line.
The solution does not hinder anything about the factory specs of the car, and it does a great job at deterring thieves.
If you are a Prius owner or a vehicle owner that is nervous about your catalytic converter getting stolen, I will encourage you to forget VIN etching. Criminals do not care about fluorescent paint, VIN etching, or anything like that.
They get paid to steal converters and scrap them.
I hope that no one gets their converter stolen and has to deal with the headache that comes from it. Thank you all for reading, and I look forward to seeing you in the following article.
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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 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. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.