How to Prevent BMW Series 5 Catalytic Converter Theft

Worried about catalytic converter theft? Here’s how you can protect your BMW series 5!
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
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We have good news: Compared to other vehicles, BMW Series 5 catalytic converters are relatively difficult to steal. However, that doesn’t mean you’re absolved from any risk. You should still carefully work to prevent theft by parking in secure areas, etching your VIN into your catalytic converter, and even investing in a special shield for the part.
Catalytic converters are made from valuable materials that make them a prime target for thieves who’re looking to make a quick buck on the black market. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make sure your BMW is less of a target. 
And if catalytic converter theft does happen to you, there are a few essential steps to take, including contacting your
car insurance
provider to see if replacement parts will be covered. For more details, read on to learn everything you need to know! 
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Is it easy to steal the catalytic converter from a BMW Series 5? 

You’re in luck: BMW Series 5 catalytic converters are relatively difficult to steal compared to other makes and models. This can be credited to BMW’s engineers, who hid the part right up against the engine, to make accessing it quite difficult. 
But that doesn’t mean that stealing your BMW’s cat is impossible, and theft still does happen. 

Top BMW Series 5 years that catalytic converter thieves target

Because all of BMW’s vehicles hide their catalytic converters so well out of sight, there is no specific model year of the Series 5 (or BMW, in general) that thieves tend to target. 

Why are BMW Series 5 catalytic converters stolen?

Why are catalytic converters so frequently stolen, anyway? Well, it has nothing to do with the fact that your car is a BMW. 
Regardless of the make and model of your vehicle, the catalytic converter is a part that works to filter out harmful emissions from your vehicle’s exhaust by directing them through a fine honeycomb of precious metals, including rhodium, platinum, and palladium. 
The market value of these metals has recently gone way up, making catalytic converters more and more attractive to criminals interested in selling precious metals on the black market. 
Take a look at the approximate worth of the precious metals in your BMW’s catalytic converter, as of January 2023: 
  • Platinum: $993 per ounce 
  • Palladium: $1,611 per ounce 
  • Rhodium: $12,250 per ounce 
Keep in mind that your catalytic converter contains less than an ounce of each of these metals—but because it’s generally quite easy to steal the part, illegally collecting several can lead to some pretty fast money. 

BMW catalytic converter replacement cost

Why should you be worried about catalytic converter theft? Well, aside from being an inconvenience, it’s also a very pricey part to replace. BMW owners can expect to pay around $1,100 to $2,700 for a new catalytic converter installation (including labor charges). 
You may be able to save a bit of money by opting for cheaper aftermarket parts, but because installation is rather complicated, labor costs won’t be any less expensive.  

How to prevent catalytic converter theft from a BMW Series 5

You’ve already done a great thing by purchasing a BMW, whose catalytic converter is harder to steal. However, if you’re particularly concerned about theft, there are some additional safety measures you can take. 

Park in a secure area

At home, it’s best to park your Series 5 in your garage. If this isn’t possible, consider investing in motion sensor lights or other security measures that will alert you if an intruder is in your driveway. 
When out and about, always park in a well-lit parking lot or street or a garage or ramp that’s monitored by employees and cameras. The harder it is for a thief to poke around your vehicle without being seen, the safer you are!
MORE: How to tell if a parking garage is liable for a stolen or damaged vehicle

Buy a catalytic converter shield

Catalytic converter shields are anti-theft devices that are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Essentially, they’re aluminum plates or cages that cover and protect the part.
We recommend the
Cat Shield™ from MILLERCAT
or looking through the devices offered by
Cat Security™
. Even Amazon has lots of options—just be sure to check what’s in stock and compare it to your exact model to ensure proper fitment. 
Most cat shields can be self-installed with a few simple tools. Depending on the device you buy, it may already come with all the tools you need for installation.
A second benefit of installing a cat shield? Your insurance company might give you a discounted rate on your comprehensive insurance!

Put your VIN on the catalytic converter

A catalytic converter that’s been etched and tagged with the vehicle’s VIN cannot be resold on the black market, so this helps protect against potential theft.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) holds regular catalytic converter labeling events, and a quick Google search will help you find upcoming events in your area. Otherwise, take your BMW to your nearby muffler shop for tagging. 

Invest in comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive insurance
certainly won’t stop thieves from taking your catalytic converter, but it can help you pay for the replacement parts and labor if yours is stolen. 
In fact, if you lack comprehensive insurance, you won’t be able to submit a claim for catalytic converter theft. Instead, you’ll have to cover the cost of replacement yourself. Thus, it’s a good idea to prepare for the worst with a
full-coverage insurance
policy, especially if your BMW Series 5 is a newer (more expensive) model. 

What to do if your BMW Series 5’s catalytic converter is stolen

If, despite your best efforts, your BMW’s catalytic converter was stolen, begin by contacting law enforcement. If your vehicle was parked in an area with cameras, the police may be able to pull up the footage and attempt to catch the thief.
Even if the cops are unsuccessful, they’ll at least file a police report, which will help you when you file an insurance claim. Remember, to file a claim, your auto insurance policy must include comprehensive coverage (as we explained above).
Your insurance company will then help you schedule repairs with a mechanic and cover the cost of the replacement parts. If your plan includes a deductible, you’ll be responsible for paying it in full before your insurance will issue the remaining balance. Don’t worry—your deductible will most likely be much lower than the full cost of replacement. 
If you lack comprehensive insurance, you’ll still need to replace the catalytic converter, and you’ll need to pay for it out of pocket. Look for a mechanic who is willing to use aftermarket parts if you want to spend as little as possible. 
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Can you drive a BMW Series 5 without a catalytic converter?

Technically, any car can be driven without a catalytic converter—but it’s not feasible in the long run.
First, a BMW Series 5 that’s missing its catalytic converter won’t successfully pass emissions testing (a.k.a. smog testing). Many states and localities require vehicles to pass emissions testing, so it’s imperative that you replace the cat as soon as possible, otherwise you won’t be able to legally drive.
Additionally, a BMW that lacks a catalytic converter is much noisier and has rougher acceleration—something we’re sure you don’t want from your German-engineered luxury vehicle. Plus, you’ll be emitting harmful gasses into the atmosphere. 
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