Catalytic Converter theft is on the rise again, with reported incidents increasing by more than 600% in 2019, according to car insurance giant LV.
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 is a catalytic converter?
A catalytic converter is a section of the exhaust system located underneath your car. They are fitted to the vast majority of petrol cars that have been manufactured since 1992, and most diesel cars produced after 2001.
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, 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's a few different ways you can help prevent your vehicle's catalytic converter being stolen:
- Avoid parking your vehicle half-on a kerb, as it lifts up one side of the vehicle making access to the underside much easier for thieves.
- Catalytic converter marking kits can be purchased for around £10-£20. These act as an effective deterrent by making it much easier for stolen ones to be traced and the offenders prosecuted.
- Anti-theft devices can be purchased for £100-£300, depending on your vehicle. These provide a physical barrier around the catalytic converter, making removal far more difficult and potentially preventing theft entirely.
- Park your vehicle in a locked garage where possible. If you don't have access to a garage, parking in a well-lit, busy area can reduce the likelihood of your vehicle being targeted.
If you notice anyone acting suspiciously underneath a vehicle, you should immediately contact the Police.