How to Prevent Jeep Grand Cherokee Catalytic Converter Theft

Jeep Grand Cherokees are at a high risk of catalytic converter theft. Here’s how to protect yours.
Written by Meaghan Branham
Reviewed by Brenna Swanston
Grand Cherokee is a popular pick in the brand's lineup for its powerful engine and versatility. Unfortunately, it’s just as popular among those looking to take advantage of the model's high ground clearance to steal its catalytic converter. To combat this, Grand Cherokee drivers can take steps like parking in busy areas, installing an anti-theft device, or etching the VIN on the converter.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the number of catalytic converter thefts in the nation has skyrocketed in the past several years. In 2019, the number of claims was around 3,389. In 2020, though, that number jumped up to 14,433.
SUV and truck owners have to be especially wary, as these vehicles tend to be more common targets for this crime.
If you’re wondering what you can do to prevent catalytic converter theft in your Jeep Grand Cherokee, we've compiled some tips for lowering your risk and what to do if you’ve been a victim of this crime.
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Is it easy to steal the catalytic converter from a Jeep Grand Cherokee? 

The bad news for Grand Cherokee owners: There are two catalytic converters on this SUV, and both are located on the underside of the body, where they are relatively easy to access.
Jeep models like the Grand Cherokee have a high ground clearance of around 8 inches. That means there’s a little more room to slide underneath the car and cut out the converter than there might be under, say, a sedan with the average 4-inch ground clearance.

Top Jeep models that catalytic converter thieves target

As we mentioned, SUVs are pretty common targets of catalytic converter theft. Unfortunately, Jeeps in particular tend to carry an even higher risk. 
Topping many lists of cars most often targeted for catalytic converter theft is the
Jeep Patriot,
which comes in third in most rankings. The
Jeep Gladiator
may also be at a heightened risk, because of its especially high ground clearance. 

Why are Jeep Grand Cherokee catalytic converters stolen?

So why are these little parts such hot commodities on the market? It’s more about their makeup than it is about their function. While catalytic converters are vital parts of your car's exhaust system, designed to convert harmful emissions into less harmful gasses by filtering them, most thieves are after the metals that cause this conversion. 
Inside the catalytic converter is a mesh honeycomb structure coated in valuable metals like rhodium, palladium, and platinum, which serve as the catalyst for the reactions that convert the gasses.
Here is how the value of each of those metals breaks down: 
  • Platinum: $1,128 per ounce 
  • Palladium: $2,938 per ounce 
  • Rhodium: $20,000 per ounce 
The Grand Cherokee has two of these fixtures, which means two times the profit for thieves who steal them. They are also fairly easy to get out from under the SUV: Often, they can be cut out with the help of a reciprocating saw fairly quickly. 

Jeep catalytic converter replacement cost

The exact cost to replace your catalytic converter depends on the Jeep model you have. For the Jeep Grand Cherokee, catalytic converter replacement can cost an average of $1,573 and $1,670. Part of this is the cost of the catalytic converter itself, of course, while much of the total comes from the cost of complicated labor. 
MORE: How to pass emissions testing

How to prevent catalytic converter theft from a Jeep Grand Cherokee

As the number of catalytic converter thefts increases, drivers are becoming savvier about the precautions they can take to mitigate their risk of being targeted. Here are some of the most tried and true tips: 

Park in a secure area

When parking your vehicle, look for a spot in a well-secured area. Lots and garages that fit any of the following criteria are a better bet than secluded or dimly lit spots:
  • Monitored by security on duty or security cameras
  • Well-lit 
  • Busy areas with many people around 
It’s much harder for thieves to steal a catalytic converter unnoticed in spaces like these.
MORE: How to find a parking spot in a city

Buy a catalytic converter anti-theft device

There are quite a few anti-theft devices on the market that can protect your catalytic converter. Those include:
  • Anti-theft shields: These are shields made of stainless steel or aluminum that fit over your catalytic converter and are challenging to cut through.
  • Catstrap™
    : This is a steel cable topped with wire ropes that goes around your catalytic converter. The ropes make it difficult for the teeth of a saw to get a grip on the device, while the steel cable is tough to get through. 
  • CatClamp®
    : This device comprises a net of wire ropes that fits over the catalytic converter, making the prospect of cutting through it to the cat more time-consuming and daunting.
These devices are all typically easy enough to install on your own. Plus, some insurance companies may even offer discounts on your comprehensive insurance if you have installed an anti-theft device on your vehicle.

Put your VIN on the catalytic converter

Tagging your catalytic converter by etching your vehicle’s VIN into it means the cat cannot be sold on the black market—which means thieves are much less likely to go through the effort of stealing it.  

Invest in comprehensive insurance

While basic liability insurance is all that is required by law in most states, this minimum coverage won’t serve you in cases of catalytic converter theft. For that, you’ll need to invest in comprehensive insurance
While this won’t lower your risk of theft, it will give you financial protection in the event that you are a victim of the crime. If yours is stolen, you can file a claim with your comprehensive coverage, so that you won’t have to pay for your replacement entirely out of pocket. 

What to do if your Jeep Grand Cherokee’s catalytic converter is stolen

If the catalytic converter in your Jeep Grand Cherokee has been stolen, the first thing you should do is contact the police. They may be able to help find the culprit if there is security footage of the area. Even if they can’t, though, they can file a report that will come in handy when you take the next step: contacting your insurance company.
If you have comprehensive coverage, you can file a claim for the theft. While you still may need to pay a deductible, you likely will not have to pay for the entire replacement out of pocket if you have this coverage. 
Finally, you’ll need to replace your catalytic converter. You may have to go to a mechanic chosen by your insurance provider if they are covering part or all of the cost. If you are paying out of pocket, you can save money by looking for aftermarket parts—which are often more affordable. 
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Can you drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee without a catalytic converter?

This one’s a little tricky: Technically, you can drive your Jeep Grand Cherokee without one or both of the catalytic converters. However, in the long run, this can lead to wear and tear on your car and the environment
Without the catalytic converters, your Cherokee will not be able to pass the emissions tests required by some states to renew your vehicle registration. Even if there are no emissions testing requirements in your state, driving without catalytic converters releases harmful byproducts into the environment, which may weigh heavily on your conscience. 
If you aren’t as concerned with the ecological side of the issue, you still will want to replace the catalytic converter as soon as you can. Without it, you may experience a lot of road noise, uncomfortable acceleration, and overheating—which can ultimately lead to engine damage. 
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