Catalytic Converter Theft - What You Need To Know
In recent years, there has been a significant spike in the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles, predominantly cars. In the eyes of the thieves, a catalytic converter is a quick and easy way to make a lot of money due to the precious metals contained within a catalytic converter. We have all heard about the rise of this crime but few actually know the details. So, here is everything you need to know about catalytic converters, why they are stolen and how you can protect your car.
What is a catalytic converter?
It is a legal requirement in nearly every country that cars are fitted with a catalytic converter. Its role is reduce the harmfulness of the emissions emitted from a vehicle. Connected to the exhaust system, it is located underneath the car. Catalytic converters can be found on nearly all cars, regardless of whether they are diesel, petrol or hybrid. Electric cars do not have them as they do not emit any harmful emissions.
The appearance of a catalytic converter varies from each manufacturer. Each device contains various different precious metals arranged in a certain way to remove as much of the harmful compounds as possible before emitting them through the exhaust. For example, very harmful and dangerous elements like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons are converted in carbon dioxide. Palladium, platinum and rhodium are common precious metals found in catalytic converters.
Why and how do thieves steal catalytic converters?
As mentioned above, catalytic converters contain precious metals such as palladium, platinum and rhodium. These are some of the most expensive metals available. Of course, the price of metals changes all the time but palladium is approximately £1,600 per ounce; platinum is priced at approximately £700 per ounce and rhodium surpasses £10,000 per ounce. So, it is easy to see where the value is in stealing catalytic converters. That being said, a thief will usually sell a catalytic converter for scrap which can range from £400-£1,000.
The tools needed
With just a few very simple and easy to acquire tools, a thief can steal the catalytic converter from a car in under a few minutes. This makes for quick cash and the capability of stealing many in a single day. All a thief needs is: a jack and an angle grinder.
The first 6 months of 2021 alone saw over 15,000 catalytic converters stolen in the UK, according to the National Police Chief's Council.
Catalytic converter thieves often work in gangs, driving around in a cloned or stolen car looking for good targets. Once a vehicle has been identified, they will jack the car up to gain access to the underneath before using an angle grinder to remove the whole unit.
Protecting your car from catalytic converter theft
Firstly, it is important to know the most common cars affected; hybrid cars are more likely to affected due to their converters containing higher quantities of the precious metals. In the UK, the most common cars to have their catalytic converters stolen are the Toyota Prius, Toyota Auris and the Honda Jazz. That being said, 4x4, SUVs and commercial vehicles are also often targeted due to them sitting higher off of the ground, allowing for easing access to the underneath.
Many local police forces provide prevention advice around catalytic converter theft, so be sure to check your local force's website. In London, the Metropolitan Police also advise people to keep an eye out for thieves in action. If you see a car parked up that is jacked up and can hear the sound of metal cutting, call 999 immediately.
Other things you can do are:
- If unable to park on a driveway or locking your car in a garage, park in a well-lit, well-populated area to deter thieves.
- Park near CCTV or install a dash cam to your car. Many dash cams can start recording when they the car being moved.
- Have an alarm fitted to your car (if it doesn't already have one).
- Purchase a catalytic converter protection device - you can speak to your car dealer or MOT garage for recommendations.
- Park near other cars or close to walls, fences or kerbs to make it more difficult for thieves to access the car.
These are just a few tips and do not guarantee full protection. It is important to be vigilant of thieves and carefully consider where you are parking your car.
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