A catalytic converter may seem like a bizarre object to steal from a car, yet thieves are reportedly targeting them because of a rise in metal prices. 25,000 catalytic converter thefts were reported between 2010 and the first half of 2013, according to figures from 40 UK police forces, with 4×4 vehicles more commonly targeted because their higher ground clearance makes the job easier.
The reason for the increase in cases, which have nearly doubled over the three year period, is down to the expensive precious metals such as platinum and palladium found within the car part.
“We’ve seen that in the past metals such as platinum and palladium are affected by the changes in the market,” British Transport Police senior analyst James Goodson told the BBC. “That would be reflected at scrap metal dealer level by the dealer offering a better price for that material.”
“We’ve identified that when there are increases in the price of these metals and materials then we often see an increase in levels of theft reported to us,” he added.
The Metropolitan Police saw the most catalytic converter thefts, rising from 664 in 2010 to 1,181 in 2012. Cases more than tripled over the same period in Cheshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, while West Yorkshire saw more than a seven-fold jump, from 50 to 386 cases.
While the replacement of a catalytic converter could prove expensive for the victim, the consequences are at least less disastrous than when thieves target copper parts of a railway line that can (and have) caused trains to derail.
Motorists can make life more difficult for thieves by keeping their car garaged or left overnight in well-lit areas and by having the catalytic converter welded on instead of bolted. Surrounding your car with razor wire is optional.
Catalytic converters are fitted to cars to reduce the levels of poisonous gases emitted from a car’s exhaust.