Aaron Widmar
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Which Car Parts Are Thieves Most Likely to Steal?

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The most valuable and most frequently stolen car parts

Car Theft Protection

Your car has a lot of valuable parts, and parking it outside where thieves can discreetly access it makes it a target. While most break-ins and smash-and-grabs target expensive belongings like purses and electronics, car thieves can also swipe parts of the car itself (especially as the cost of car parts continues to rise). These are the most commonly stolen car parts you’re at risk of losing.

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Catalytic converter

Part of the exhaust system that’s exposed underneath your vehicle is the catalytic converter. This emissions regulation device is a target for many thieves because it consists of many valuable metals, including platinum, palladium, rhodium, and copper. If a thief can wriggle underneath your car and reach the catalytic converter, they will saw it off and sell it for scrap metal.


If the thief can wedge a lever under the hood and pry it open, they can grab items from the engine to sell for scrap metal — particularly the battery. A newer, working battery can be resold for a pretty penny, and even an old battery has value in its abundance of lead.


It’s not just in the movies: Thieves will happily steal your car’s wheels if they have a wrench and a set of cinder blocks. Why do criminals swipe wheels (apart from the fun of stranding someone)? Because they can sell the tires and rims second-hand — especially if you have a set of nice chrome rims.

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Tire valve stem cap blue dice fancy wheel accessory
Photo: The News Wheel

Valve stem caps

These air stem caps on your tires are an easy target for thieves who want to swipe something quickly and discreetly. Most valve stem caps aren’t targets for thieves, but if you have special custom or chrome ones, be prepared for them to be nabbed by someone who likes shiny objects.


It’s easier than you might realize for someone to unfasten and detach your pickup truck’s tailgate, especially if you leave it unlocked. A thief can make a lot of money by selling a tailgate online as a replacement part to a buyer who damaged theirs and needs a replacement (who knows, you could be buying your own tailgate back).

There are ways to protect your car from being stripped for parts. If you live or work in an area with a high crime rate and park your vehicle outside, keep the doors and hatch/tailgate locked. Look into aftermarket protections like wheel locks and engine covers.