Catalytic converter theft is on the rise. In 2020, 15,000 thefts were reported in London alone, compared with 9,500 the previous year.
Your catalytic converter is a device that sits between the engine and the exhaust pipe, converting harmful fumes from your engine into harmless gases. These catalysts are made up of precious metals; rhodium, palladium and platinum, which, at present, are more expensive than gold on the market. The precious metals contained in a catalytic converter are of extremely high value and because the theft is so easy to do, it takes just under 90 seconds for experienced gangs to steal them.
Watch this video to see how easily a pair stole a catalytic converter:
Why Are Catalytic Converter Thefts on the Rise Now?
One of the reasons is that fewer vehicles are being left in places with CCTV, such as office car parks and secured parking lots, thanks to home working. Additionally, people are parking on the street more and more to get out of the house and explore the outdoors. This gives thieves more opportunities to steal.
Another reason is that replacing catalytic converters on cars is expensive. So, there’s always a demand for cheap second-hand systems.
Most of all, thefts are on the rise because of their makeup of precious palladium, platinum and rhodium. Palladium is worth approximately £2000 per ounce, rhodium more than £20,000, and platinum is around £850 per ounce.
The increase in value of these metals can actually be attributed to the demand for the use of them in electrical vehicles, where they are used in various battery technologies and systems in the car.
Which Cars Are Most Likely to be Targeted in Catalytic Converter Theft?
Hybrid cars are particularly popular with catalytic converter theft. As hybrid cars have a combustion and electric engine, the condition of the precious metals is better, meaning more can be extracted from them. This means that cars like the Toyota Prius are especially common for theft.
4x4s are also at risk as they are higher off the ground – this makes it easier to get underneath and cut the catalytic converter off. It’s a very easy part of the engine to target, cut out, or in some cases, simply unscrew.
Older cars (pre-1993) are also targeted because the density and volume of the precious metals is going to be higher compared to newer cars.
Toyota, a manufacturer whose cars get frequently targeted for catalytic converter theft, have created a ‘Catloc’. Starting at £190, which includes fitting, they have a casing for the catalytic converter, making it harder for a thief to steal it. For those that have had their systems completely stolen, they have a full exhaust bundle that is sold at cost price for £1050.
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with Catalytic Converters
How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft
Where possible, park in a garage.
If you need to park your car on a driveway or a road, put the car next to a fence with the exhaust facing it. Try not to park your car half on the road and half on the pavement as this makes it easier to get underneath the car.
Install Devices Such As CCTV or Alarms
You could also install CCTV – even a Ring doorbell or similar can help. You could also fit the car with an alarm retrospectively.
Don’t Approach Thieves
As catalytic converter theft gangs have the potential to be quite violent, the advice is to not approach them, instead call the police immediately.
Check With Your Car Manufacturer
Some car manufacturers are working to mark catalytic converters with a unique serial number or similar, so it’s easier to be traced back to the car’s owner if it’s recovered by the police. This also makes it less rewarding for the thief, as it’s hard to remove a unique serial number. It can also decrease the illegal sale value as it can be proven to be a stolen part.