While not at the level of certain countries, the trend of catalytic converter theft in the country looks to be on the rise, with more cases of such incidences coming about. Thieves are targeting the section of the exhaust housing the item, and no surprises as to why.

The unit – which 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 reaction – contains various precious metals like platinum, rhodium and palladium in its construction.

It is these metals, applied within the converter to act as a catalyst that reacts with exhaust gasses, that are being targeted, because they are worth more than their weight in gold, certainly in the case of the last two elements. Stolen items are sold off to scrap metal dealers for the value of the various precious metals, and that can fetch quite a bit.

Last month, a woman revealed that the converter on her Honda City was stolen when the vehicle was parked at Glenmarie LRT station car park while her family took the train on an outing to Kuala Lumpur. While vehicles left in unattended public places might be more susceptible to such cases of theft, it seems that nowhere is safe, not even your own home.

In a post on the Prius Club Malaysia FB page, Kuganesan S. revealed that the catalytic converter on his Toyota Prius was stolen, with the thieves jacking up the car and cutting off the section of the car’s exhaust housing the converter and oxygen sensor. He added that the replacement cost, as quoted by the service centre, is RM5,100, and that he has lodged a police report for an insurance claim.

Unlike the case last month, the theft didn’t occur in a public spot, but rather in Kuganesan’s house, with the vehicle parked outside. Occurences such as these are becoming common – a friend had the converter on his Honda Odyssey, which was also parked just outside his house, stolen last year, and the replacment cost him a pretty penny.

While it’s impossible to thwart theft completely, there are ways to hopefully prevent your vehicle from being a victim. If you’re going out, park in well-lit – and populated – areas when possible, and look into installing an anti-theft device on your catalytic converter or a vibration-triggered vehicle alarm.

The last couple of items involve cost, for sure, but it saves you the extra cost down the line should the unit be liberated from your car. More so if you happen to own something like a Prius, which in the United States is right at the top of the target list for catalytic converter theft due to its converter having larger amounts of precious metals.