Vehicle experts recommend shield to help with rise in catalytic converter thefts

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 10:27 AM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise across the U.S. and right here in Southwest Louisiana. You may have seen numerous stories over the past year of thefts and arrests regarding the automotive part, but experts say there is a way to make it harder for thieves and potentially save you thousands of dollars.

Casey Lumpkin is a Lake Charles resident who had his catalytic converter stolen not once but twice within the same year while he was at work.

“I knew exactly what it was as soon as I started my car. It was just that loud roar,” says Lumpkin. “I was so angry.”

The reason catalytic converters are so commonly stolen is that the metals used in their manufacturing are more valuable than most. That makes the part more appealing to criminals but also more costly to those who fall victim to thieves.

Lumpkin recalls, “It was the same vehicle. The first time was $4,000. The second time I think they cut me a small deal but it was around $3,500.”

It’s only January and already there have been nine reports of major vehicle thefts this year, according to Calcasieu Parish authorities. And while those thefts aren’t specific to catalytic converters, in just one of those reports, eight catalytic converters were stolen.

But one thing experts say can be done to add a little extra security to your vehicle is installing a catalytic converter shield.

Local supervisors at Lake Charles Toyota say the shield is made up of stainless steel and metal that is drilled on to cover up the part. They say these shields are often vehicle specific so you may need to do a little research if you plan on installing it yourself.

Service manager Kenny Guillory at Lake Charles Toyota says it’s something to consider if you own a vehicle that’s a common target for these kinds of thefts such as a truck or SUV, “It’s easier on a truck or SUV something a little higher. They slide underneath there and within a minute to three minutes they have both sides cut, pulled out and they’re driving off.”

Experts say the shield acts as a deterrent as most thieves don’t want to spend a lot of time stealing something as it raises the chance they could be seen or caught in the act.

Accessory service advisor for Lake Charles Toyota Christian Tarver says, “I would say that it would be a big, big, deterrent for somebody because they’re not wanting a waste of time to go underneath it and deal with a cover.”

Many shields run anywhere from $100 to $500 but it’s a relatively small investment compared to replacing a part that could cost you thousands.