Pelham Gardens resident offers solution to protect against catalytic converter thefts

Catalytic converter protection, which takes Greco about 45 minutes to install at a flat rate of $250.
Photo courtesy Rafael Greco

A Pelham Gardens resident says he has discovered a solution to protect against the theft of catalytic converters in the Bronx.

Pelham Gardens resident Rafael Greco, a welding instructor for almost four decades, is offering quick and affordable installation to protect against the trend of catalytic converter thefts in the borough.

What is a catalytic converter and why do people steal them?

A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device for vehicles, part of the muffler system, which takes toxic gases from exhaust gas from the vehicle and converts them into pollutants which are less-toxic.

Catalytic converters also contain precious metal catalysts, including platinum, palladium and rhodium, which are used to clean up the emissions from gasoline and diesel vehicles to reduce pollutants from vehicle exhaust. After removing the catalytic converter from the vehicle, offenders will sell the catalytic converter to scrap metal recycling locations and can receive upwards of $1,000.

Coming up with a solution

Greco has developed a new vehicle contraption which surrounds the catalytic converter, using chains, cables and clamps which are welded into place, essentially protecting the catalytic converter and making the device very difficult to remove from a vehicle.

Greco says that his wife Bianca’s car was targeted about a year and a half ago, when multiple individuals in a black BMW SUV attempted to steal her catalytic converter.

The offenders accomplished part of the mission and cut the front half of the exhaust pipe, also known as a muffler, before Greco came outside and scared them off. The offenders retreated and circled the block multiple times to see if the coast was clear to continue.

According to Greco, that same black BMW SUV was in the news in August of 2022, in connection with a hit-and-run near Yankee Stadium which resulted in the death of a 69-year old woman who worked for the city’s Department of Correction. And what was discovered inside the trunk of that black BMW SUV? Approximately twelve stolen catalytic converters.

“They (offenders) look for vehicle that remain idle for somewhat of a long period of time,” said Greco. “People who steal catalytic converters are looking for vehicles in parking lots, secluded streets and any location where they know vehicles will be left unattended, but in reality, all they need is two minutes to steal a catalytic converter.”

The three individuals fled the scene following the incident before eventually turning themselves in.

He added that his Pelham Gardens neighbor, Jen, had also been a victim of catalytic converter theft in the past. According to Greco, the catalytic converter of Jen’s vehicle was removed in less than a minute’s time.

Greco says that many of these catalytic converter thefts are successfully executed with the use of a reciprocating saw. According to Greco, reciprocating saws can cut through the exhaust pipe “like it was butter.”

“It was a helpless feeling, knowing that there was no solution to stop or even deter offenders from stealing catalytic converters,” Greco said.

Now, there is a solution. Greco is currently providing service to equip vehicles with catalytic converter protection, at a flat rate of $250. He says the installation takes about 45 minutes.

Another example of catalytic converter protection, installed by Greco.Photo courtesy Rafael Greco

According to Greco, the installation of this welded contraption will make it extremely difficult for someone to steal a catalytic converter from the bottom of a vehicle. If an offender attempts to cut the loose chain surrounding the catalytic converter, it will prove as mostly ineffective and generate noise, making the job more of an inconvenience.

Greco admits that his idea isn’t full-proof, but believes that it is an effective deterrent for potential offenders who look to steal catalytic converters from parked vehicles.

To get catalytic converter protection installed for your vehicle, please call the Catalytic Converter Safe Number at 201-834-4759.

Reach Steven Goodstein at or (718) 260–8326. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes