It's no secret that catalytic converter thefts are currently at insane levels. With some aftermarket assistance, Toyota is taking steps to try and quell would-be 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 the Cat Sheild available in the accessories section. Produced by a California-based company called Miller Cat, it's basically an aluminum shield with vents to allow airflow around the hot exhaust system. It mounts to existing points on the underside of the car, and it comes with a "tamper-proof screw kit" to dissuade nefarious individuals from simply zipping it off with a socket wrench.

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It's a $140 option that doesn't come installed from the factory, meaning you'll need to do it yourself or have it bolted up at the dealership. Considering the catalytic converter for a 2022 Prius is over $1,000 from Toyota, $140 is pretty cheap insurance.

Curiously, at the time of publishing, we only found the Cat Shield offered on the new Prius. After contacting Toyota, was told that it's actually offered on numerous vehicles. That includes older versions of the Prius like the C and V, as well as the Corolla, Sequoia, Tacoma, Tundra, and 4Runner. It certainly makes sense on higher-riding vehicles, which are easier targets due to their ground clearance. Furthermore, Toyota says it will be offered on additional vehicles in the future. There's no mention of pricing beyond the 2023 Prius.

Precious metals used in the production of catalytic converters as long made them a favorite, convenient target for thieves. However, thefts of the costly emissions devices have skyrocketed in recent years, with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reporting a 325-percent increase in 2020. Converters can typically be stolen in just one minute, as we saw recently with some brazen crooks driving a Lamborghini Urus.

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. 21 individuals from five states were indicted, and over $545 million in assets were seized.

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