Drive Away Catalytic Converter Theft with License Plate Recognition

In a report from 2023, it was found that the number of catalytic converter thefts per month had decreased by half compared to 2022. While this is a positive trend, this figure is still nine times higher than that of 2019 and almost double that of 2020. So despite the decline in catalytic converter theft, prioritizing protection remains crucial. License plate recognition is one effective solution to mitigate the risk of such thefts.

Reasons for Catalytic Converter Theft

Catalytic converters are responsible for filtering out pollutants from the car’s exhaust. Despite being located in a hard-to-reach spot – between the engine and muffler – they’re relatively easy to steal. They are not securely welded to the car so thieves can easily slide underneath the vehicle and saw them off in under 2 minutes. Every gasoline-powered vehicle manufactured after 1975 has one, and it’s illegal to drive without it in the United States. If someone’s catalytic converter is stolen, they must replace it immediately, which can be expensive. While a single converter may fetch a few hundred dollars at a scrapyard, replacing it can cost as much as $3,000.

Thieves target catalytic converters because they contain precious metals like palladium, rhodium, and platinum. Even though this type of theft is not new, it became a major problem in 2022 when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the mining of these metals, causing prices to skyrocket. For example, the price of rhodium shot up from around $3,000 per ounce to nearly $26,000 in 2021. However, prices have since returned to 2019 levels, contributing to the recent decrease in catalytic converter thefts.

Uses of License Plate Recognition (LPR)

The main driver behind catalytic converter theft rates is the price of the precious metals they contain. Although prices have reverted to pre-COVID-19 levels, there’s no guarantee that they will remain at this level indefinitely. However, license plate recognition (LPR) technology provides an effective solution to combat and discourage catalytic converter thefts. By using cameras equipped with LPR software, law enforcement agencies, parking lot operators, and private businesses can monitor vehicles and prevent theft.

Real-Time Monitoring

Cameras with LPR capabilities can be installed at entry and exit points of parking lots or facilities to monitor vehicles entering and leaving the premises. The cameras capture images of every vehicle that passes through, keeping a record of each visit. This data helps security personnel to track suspicious vehicles, such as those lingering for an unusual amount of time, which could indicate someone attempting to remove catalytic converters. Additionally, the recorded information serves as valuable evidence for investigations if theft occurs.

Alerts & Notifications

LPR systems can be linked with databases containing information on stolen vehicles, known theft suspects, or vehicles reported to be involved in catalytic converter thefts. As the cameras capture images of passing vehicles, the system performs instant license plate checks against this database. If a matching license plate is detected, the system triggers an alert, allowing security teams to take action. This would be especially effective in apprehending thieves who steal catalytic converters in states with strict selling requirements, like Texas, and then travel to states with more lenient laws to sell them.


Besides monitoring for theft, LPR cameras deter potential thieves. When placed in areas prone to catalytic converter theft, such as parking lots or streets with high theft rates, these cameras act as a constant watchful eye. Knowing that their movements are being monitored and recorded reduces the likelihood of individuals attempting to steal catalytic converters or engage in other illicit activities. Not only does this prevent crime, but it also creates a safer environment for the community.

Investigation & Prosecution

If theft does occur, LPR technology captures valuable evidence for investigations and prosecutions. The images, video footage, and license plate information captured by the cameras can help law enforcement agencies identify suspects and track their whereabouts. Not only that, this evidence can aid law enforcement agencies in recovering stolen vehicles and holding perpetrators accountable, therefore acting as a deterrent against future incidents.

Secure Your Parking Lot with PLACA.AI

License plate recognition (LPR) technology is one solution that we can use to fight against catalytic converter thefts. By using cameras equipped with advanced LPR software, organizations can enhance their ability to monitor, analyze, and respond to suspicious vehicle activity. PLACA.AI’s cloud-based platform delivers seamless integration, real-time alerts, and high-performance LPR scanning capabilities, allowing you to protect your assets and community from catalytic converter thefts and other criminal activities.

Get in touch with the 2M Technology sales team today to secure your parking facility with PLACA.AI and ensure a safer tomorrow. You can reach us at +1 (877) 926-2288 or at If you’re interested in learning more about PLACA.AI before subscribing, sign up for a live demo using the link provided below.

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