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Forest Hill Ward - Catalytic Converter Theft - Crime Prevention Advice
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Posts: 411
Joined: Dec 2002

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Post: #1
07-02-2021 11:11 AM

[Received from local police]

You may be aware that there has been an increase in theft of catalytic converters from cars on the Forest Hill Ward.
This crime is attractive for criminals as the exhaust components are highly sought-after due to the precious metals inside: palladium, platinum and rhodium. Catalytic converters (commonly known as ‘cats’) can contain up to seven grams of these metals.

Palladium, platinum, and rhodium found in the converters are worth a fortune to thieves. Currently, palladium is even more valuable than gold, rhodium is worth almost two thirds of the value of gold, and platinum is around half the value of gold.

As your local Safer Neighbourhood Team, we wish to provide you with some knowledge on this topic, including how to reduce the risk of catalytic converter theft from your car.

What does a catalytic converter do?
A catalytic converter is part of a modern car’s exhaust system. It processes the emissions from a combustion engine into less harmful gases, before releasing them into the atmosphere.

Why are they a target for theft?
The chemical reaction that takes place within the converter requires precious metals to act as the actual catalyst. These include palladium, platinum and rhodium. Market values for these rare materials have increased substantially in the past 18 months. Palladium can be sold for £1,500 per ounce, with rhodium worth up to £6,700 per ounce. Both figures are higher than the price of gold.

How do thieves steal catalytic converters?
As part of the exhaust system, catalytic converters are left exposed beneath most cars. This means thieves can simply slide under the car to remove them. SUVs are particularly at risk, as their raised ride height makes access beneath the car easier. Some are bolted onto the exhaust, with other types being welded into place. The latter can be removed by cutting through the pipework to free the cat.

Most catalytic converters are unmarked, meaning they cannot be easily traced to an individual vehicle. Once taken, they can be sold to unlicensed scrap metal dealers.

Why are hybrid cars being targeted?
Hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, account for a large proportion of the catalytic converters being stolen. Admiral data shows that the Prius, Honda Jazz, Toyota Auris and Lexus RX are the cars most susceptible to theft. Thieves target these vehicles as the catalytic converters are said to be less corroded. The hybrid drivetrain results in lower overall exhaust emissions, leaving the precious metals in better condition. In turn, this makes them more valuable to sell on.

What can I do to protect my catalytic converter?
Not all cars are at such risk, with some models having the catalytic converter mounted within the engine bay. This makes it much harder to steal. Drivers should check with their local dealership if they are unsure.

The following advice will help local residents to reduce the risk of your catalytic converter being stolen:
• Parking your car in a locked garage overnight
• Trying to park in a location that is well-lit and overlooked
• Avoid mounting your car on the kerb as it gives thieves easier access
• Installing CCTV to cover where your car is parked
• Marking your catalytic converter with a forensic marker, which can make it harder to sell on
• Speak to a car dealer about a tilt sensor that activates an alarm if a thief tries to jack up your vehicle

If you require any further advice regarding this issue then please feel free to get in touch with us.

Kind regards,

Amie McCreery
Forest Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team

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