It’s no secret that catalytic converter theft is at an insane level right now. Along with some aftermarket help, Toyota is taking steps to deter thieves with a special shield that effectively blocks access to the converter.
If you jump into the online configurator for the 2023 Toyota Prius, you’ll find something called a cat shield available in the accessories section. Developed by a California company called Miller Cat, it is basically an aluminum shield with vents to allow airflow around the hot exhaust system. It mounts to points on the underside of the car, and it comes with a “tamper-proof screw kit” to prevent the unscrupulous from zipping it off with a socket wrench.
It’s a $140 option that doesn’t come installed from the factory, meaning you’ll have to do it yourself or have it bolted on at the dealership. Considering the catalytic converter for the 2022 Prius is over $1,000 from Toyota, $140 is pretty cheap insurance.
Interestingly, at the time of publication, we only found the cat shield offered on the new Prius. After contacting Toyota, Motor1.com It is reported that it is actually offered on several vehicles. This includes older versions of the Prius, such as the C and V, as well as the Corolla, Sequoia, Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner. This certainly makes sense on high-riding vehicles, which are easy targets due to their ground clearance. Additionally, Toyota says it will be offered on additional vehicles in the future. There’s no mention of pricing beyond the 2023 Prius.
The precious metals used in the manufacture of catalytic converters have long made them a favorite, easy target for thieves. However, theft of expensive emission devices has increased in recent years. National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is reporting a 325% increase in 2020. Converters can usually be stolen in just under a minute, as we’ve seen recently with some brazen crooks driving Lamborghini Uris.
The good guys are making some progress in the fight. In early November, the US Department of Justice brought down a massive converter theft ring. Twenty-one people from five states were indicted, and more than $545 million in assets were seized.