If you haven’t heard, catalytic converter thefts are on the rise. While lots of people are asking “Why don’t ‘they’ do something about this?” the answer isn’t all that simple. But a reader clued us in to a gadget called the CatStrap™. It might prevent your vehicle’s catalytic converter from being stolen.
The CatStrap is an intriguing device that is one of those simple solutions to a complex problem that may turn out to be a great solution.
Essentially, this device is a series of high-strength metal cables encapsulated in a braided metal wrapper with a bright label on it. The whole “strip” is designed to be a deterrent for catalytic converter thefts. It makes it more difficult to actually saw off the catalytic converter. But it is also a visual deterrent by virtue of the bright label.
Why steal catalytic converters?
It’s easy to steal a catalytic converter on many vehicles and even more so on motorhomes as well as large pickups and SUVs. Essentially, thieves simply slip under the vehicle with a skilsaw and cut the exhaust pipe on either side of the device. Then off they go with a haul of high-value materials to a place that will pay them for the metals or even the complete device itself.
There are also pipe cutters out there that enable someone to cut the exhaust pipe in a moment’s time and do so almost silently. It’s a tool an exhaust pipe shop would use but something that makes it really handy for catalytic converter thieves, as well.
Larger vehicles like the kind we drive generally offer more space underneath for a thief to do their dirty deed. The larger catalytic converters required in big engines also have more of the high-value metals in them.
How it works
The CatStrap simply uses a high-temperature adhesive to stick to the pipe and the catalytic converter. Then you also secure it in several places to add further to it remaining in place.
The idea is that the high-strength cables inside the mesh outer wrapper will dramatically slow down the thief trying to cut the pipe. Further, the bright label could act as a deterrent and the thief might move on seeing this.
My own questions
This is one of those really brilliant inventions that are delightfully simple and seems to offer a solution to a problem without creating a problem itself.
The only thing I would want to be sure of is that the converter itself doesn’t lose any cooling functionality. The catalytic converter tends to run very, very hot as part of the chemical process that makes it actually work.
But, honestly, I would have zero hesitation about putting one of these on my own pickup truck and telling everybody about it who would listen. Just the visual deterrent alone could be sufficient to get someone to move on, as most of these devices are just hanging there like the apple that tempted Adam.
As we’ve written before on this website, many catalytic converter thefts happen because removing them is just so very easy. Further, access to them is also pretty great, especially on larger vehicles with high ground clearance. By installing the CatStrap you may have the only large vehicle on the block that has anything more than what a thief expects to find. That might be enough of a deterrent to cause a thief to move on.
In addition to the simple CatStrap, the company also offers a device called the CatEye. That is an alarm that works by looking for motion under the vehicle. This is a motion sensor that you attach to your vehicle battery that uses a sensor to watch for someone under the vehicle.
If it detects the right type of motion (it is adjustable), then it sounds a loud alarm—hopefully deterring someone from remaining under the vehicle.
Of course, the alarm offers a further deterrent but does have to be armed and hooked to the vehicle battery. Yes, additional deterrents are good. But I would think that the CatStrap alone is a pretty good deterrent and a very simple solution.
The price of the CatStrap ranges from $129.99 to $199.99, depending on the model chosen. Honestly, I see a lot of goofy ideas that people pitch me to share with you, but I think this might be a winner. No, I haven’t seen it in person. But the idea is a sound one and I am going to get one of these myself.
“They” should do something
In fact, there is attention by government officials to the shocking number of catalytic converter thefts. In this article in Oregon’s Portland Tribune, they outline some new legislation aimed at reducing these costly thefts.
There is also legislation that helps reduce a thief’s ability to sell the catalytic converter, as well. But this is assuming that the thief is selling it to a legitimate business like a junkyard or other material handling organization that obeys the law. The Washington House of Representatives recently passed legislation to stem the sharp rise in catalytic converter thefts across Washington state. HB 1815 requires a scrap metal business engaging in a transaction involving a catalytic converter removed from a vehicle to record documentation indicating that it came from a vehicle registered in the seller’s name.
Unfortunately, it’s an easy crime to commit and the rewards to the thief are pretty good considering the relative risk. Perhaps the best way not to be a victim is to take action yourself, especially if you own a vehicle that’s easy to crawl under like an SUV, pickup or motorhome.
Learn more on the CatStrap website.