Catalytic converter theft on the rise in the UK

Increased precious metal prices have driven a rise in the number of stolen catalytic converters in the last year

Mazda RX-8 catalytic converter

Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise as a result of increased black market value fuelled by demand for the precious metals contained within them.

Three-in-10 of all car-related theft claims received by Ageas Insurance is now a catalytic converter theft, whereas it was only around two-in-10 (or one-in-five) before the first national lockdown in March 2020.

Catalytic converters form part of a car’s exhaust system and contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. The RAC has pointed out that prices of rhodium hit a record high earlier this year, with the metal having become 200 per cent more valuable since the first lockdown - it’s now worth approximately £12,795 per ounce.

The illegal trade of these metals means brazen thieves are jacking up innocent motorists’ cars - often in broad daylight - and stealing the devices. These thefts occur on driveways, public streets and even in supermarket car parks.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams warned that drivers are “often oblivious” to their car’s catalytic converter being stolen. “Our patrols are often called to attend cars that have suddenly become excessively noisy,” he explained. “On investigation, it’s very often the case that the car’s catalytic converter has been stolen.”

Drivers who can’t park their cars in a garage are advised to use a well lit, residential location. When going away and leaving your car behind, it’s advisable to find a car park with CCTV and security patrols.

Robin Challand, claims director at Ageas, also made the point that catalytic converter thefts can “often result in a driver’s car being written off”.

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