Described by Which? as a ‘new crime wave that has swept the UK’, catalytic converter theft rose an average of 104% between 2019 and 2020 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Occurring during the national lockdowns, many thefts took place at the victim’s home, in a car park or on a known, local street. In many cases, this crime results in vast repair bills and, quite often, complete write-offs. 

It has been estimated that a single converter is worth around £400.00. Made out of rhodium, palladium and platinum, the converter’s composition of precious metals has made them valuable targets for organised crime groups. 

Catalytic converters are fitted in vehicle exhausts to reduce the number of harmful gases emitted. Functioning to absorb pollutants such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, catalytic converters work to transform the gases into less dangerous substances like carbon dioxide and water vapour. They are most commonly used with internal combustion engines and have been proven to be highly effective in decreasing noxious emissions. 

The converters are easily removable and can be detached from vehicles in under a minute. The Metropolitan Police have issued guidance surrounding common signs that a catalytic converter theft may be underway. They suggested: 

  • If a vehicle has been raised using a car jack 
  • If there is a loud drilling sound coming from under the vehicle 

Vehicles that rest higher on the road are also more likely to be targeted for their ease of access. For this reason, common targets include trucks and SUVs for their size and bolt-on converter models. However, Which?’s research from 2019-20 suggests that hybrid cars are equally likely to be selected because they have been built with more precious metals which can sometimes be worth more than the vehicle itself. 

Unfortunately, despite the 2013 Scrap Metal Dealers Act that prevents individuals from offering cash for scrap metals, it is thought that the stolen converters are sold illegally at the scrapyard, shipped abroad or sold online. 

The Metropolitan Police have also suggested certain preventative measures to protect against theft including leaving vehicles in well lit, overlooked outdoor areas or ‘registering your converter with a forensic marker’ that make stolen converters difficult to dispose of. Alternatively, a ‘Catloc’ functions as a catalytic converter lock but they are expensive devices (costing up to £200) and can only delay thieves a couple of minutes, not prevent the theft entirely. 

If you are looking for safe, friendly and environmentally conscious scrap metal collection or removal services, get in touch with Assington Autos today.