A woman on Twitter recently took to Twitter to share her ordeal of having her Honda City’s exhaust pipe stolen. According to her post, the vehicle was parked at Glenmarie LRT station car park while her family took the train on an outing to Kuala Lumpur when the theft happened.

In a follow-up tweet, she revealed it was the middle section of the exhaust system, which is where the catalytic converter is attached to, that was taken from her car. The catalytic converter is the prize here, as the thieves will then sell it off to a scrap metal dealer for the value of the various precious metals used in its construction like platinum, rhodium and palladium.

A catalytic converter changes harmful substances found in exhaust gasses (carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and hydrocarbons) into less harmful substances like carbon dioxide and water vapour by means of chemical reactions.

Inside a catalytic converter, you’ll find a honeycomb structure typically made of ceramic onto which precious metals like those mentioned are applied to act as a catalyst that reacts with exhaust gasses. It is these precious metals that have an intrinsic value, making them a target for thieves as in this woman’s case.

While we don’t often hear cases of catalytic converter theft here, it has become very prevalent in other countries. According to a report posted in March 2021 by the United States’ National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), there were 108 catalytic converter thefts per month on average in 2018, 282 average monthly thefts in 2019 and 1,203 average thefts per month in 2020.

So, just how valuable are these precious metals then? As of the time of writing, gold is priced at around RM269.28 (22 karat) and RM293.68 (24 karat) per gram. Meanwhile, platinum is about RM140.67 per gram, palladium is around RM347.41 per gram, and rhodium is around RM2,545 per gram – prices were taken from various sources and could differ. A catalytic converter can have around one to seven grams of each precious metal on average, depending on the model and make.

These figures are undoubtedly motivators for thieves to target catalytic converters, but there are some ways to hopefully prevent your vehicle from being a victim. These include always parking in well-lit areas when possible, installing an anti-theft device on your catalytic converter and setting up an alarm or camera system to catch the culprits.

Painting the catalytic converter and inscribing your vehicle’s identification number (VIN) on the painted surface is another suggestion, as it can alert a honest scrap dealer that it was stolen and make it easier to identify the owner. Have you ever had your vehicle’s catalytic converter stolen before, as this woman has had to endure? Share your experience with us.