How are catalytic converter stolen and how to prevent it?
Catalytic Converters are among the top five car parts stolen every year. That’s because the catalytic converter is made of rare metals that are worth a lot of money.
It can leave victims with four-figure bills to replace the catalytic converter and repair any damage to their car. Police can also fine motorists up to £1,000 if they're driving around in a vehicle with a missing catalytic converter, due to the unfiltered - and illegal - toxic gases being emitted into the air.
- What’s a catalytic converter?
- Why are they being stolen?
- How are they being stolen?
- Catalytic converter theft prevention techniques
What’s a catalytic converter?
A catalytic converter is a section of the exhaust system located underneath your car. They’re fitted to the vast majority of petrol cars that have been manufactured since 1992, and most diesel cars produced after 2001, in other words, this part can be found in most combustion powered vehicles (including vans, buses and lorries).
The job of the catalytic converter is to reduce the amount of harmful emissions coming out of the tailpipe. When the engine produces waste gases, they flow through the exhaust system and into the catalytic converter. A chemical reaction then takes place, 'cleaning' the gases before they exit the system into the air.
Why are they being stolen?
Catalytic converters contain precious metals, such as palladium and rhodium, and the price of which have skyrocketed in recent years. Criminals are stripping down the catalytic converters and selling the materials overseas.
How are they being stolen?
Catalytic converters are not well-protected parts. They are exposed underneath your car, and some can be removed with just a few cuts of a battery-powered handheld circular saw. They are unmarked and difficult to trace - making convicting the offenders particularly difficult.
Taller vehicles, such as SUVs, pick-ups, and vans are especially vulnerable as they typically have a higher ground clearance, making the exhaust system - and catalytic converter - more accessible to thieves.
However, all cars can be targeted, all a thief needs is a trolley jack to give them the access they need.
Catalytic converter theft prevention techniques
There are a few different ways you can help prevent your vehicle's catalytic converter being stolen:
Avoid on street parking
You should try and avoid leaving your car unattended where there’s not enough security to prevent thieves from stealing your catalytic converter.
If you can’t afford off-street parking, it’s important to park your car leaving the catalytic converter in the least vulnerable position. Avoid parking your vehicle half-on a kerb, as it lifts one side of the vehicle making access to the underside much easier for thieves.
Even though some criminals don’t mind working in broad daylight, most of the catalytic converter theft happens at night. Parking in a well-lit street could scare thieves away as they won’t be able to hide in the darkness and will be exposed to being recognized by passers-by.
Another option is parking in a locked garage if possible. Creating difficulty and barriers is one of the best ways of discouraging thieves from trying to remove your car parts and makes it harder for them to go unnoticed if they have to break into a garage first.
Mark your catalytic converter
Garages can mark catalytic converters by adding a serial number on them. This should help scrapyards to identify the stolen part. The garage provides a window sticker indicating that your part has been marked with the serial number. This should scare thieves away.
You can also choose to use a catalytic converter marking kit to mark your part. They’re usually inexpensive, and you can use the vehicle’s registration number or VIN as serial number.
You can get anti-theft devices for your vehicle. These provide a physical barrier around the catalytic converter, making removal far more difficult and potentially preventing theft entirely.
If you notice anyone acting suspiciously underneath a vehicle, you should immediately contact the Police.
Even though catalytic converters are among the most stolen body parts in the UK, there are several ways you can prevent it. Off-street parking and marking this car part are some of the most effective ways to avoid the headache of having to replace it.