Reliance Auto Test located in Bicester, Oxfordshire

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Catalytic Converter Theft Is On The Rise

These days, it’s easier for thieves to target one valuable element of your car and steal that instead; they don’t always want the whole vehicle. Therefore, we find ourselves asking “How do you protect the exterior parts of your vehicle?” However, answering that question is a lot tougher than just parking in a well-lit area and double-checking to make sure the doors are locked.

What is a catalytic converter?

Before we elaborate on why they are stolen, we should first discuss what a catalytic converter is. The majority of vehicles can, mechanically speaking, function without a catalytic converter. However, without them, it can cause significant knock-on effects for pollution levels.

These incredibly clever catalytic converters break down the toxins and pollutants from exhaust gas to make them less toxic. More specifically, a catalytic converter breaks down nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into carbon dioxide and water. This reaction results in lower pollution rates, improving environmental and health standards.

The environmental impact from cars is already well reported upon, but without converters, it would be a lot worse. For that reason, you cannot drive a modern car without a catalytic converter, and it will certainly fail an MOT if yours doesn’t function properly.

Why Are Catalytic Converters Being Stolen

The reason is fairly simple and really doesn’t require a lot of explaining, Catalytic Converters contain within their construction a few valuable metals:

  • Platinum
  • Palladium
  • Rhodium

Across the globe, there is currently a shortage of these metals on the market, and as such they are sold for an inflated price. At present, these metals are worth more than gold and are more prevalent in older cars which, comparatively, have weaker security.

For older cars, the catalytic converters are stolen within moments and each one will make the thieves a significant amount of money. It’s quick, easy money but litle regard for the damange they cause. However, it’s not hopeless. There are steps drivers can take to protect their vehicles. First, we need to discuss what cars are more likely to be targeted for catalytic converter theft – some models are at much higher risk than others.

What cars are being targeted?

All cars can be targeted for catalytic converter theft, but some are at a greater risk than others. According to research by Admiral, Japanese cars are at higher risk, namely:

  • Honda Jazz
  • Lexus RX
  • Toyota Auris
  • Toyota Pirus
CATLOC Solution to protect against Catalytic Converter theft

Outside of this shortlist, it’s the hybrid cars  that tend to have the most targeted catalytic converter thefts. These types of vehicles have a higher concentration of precious metals. Since hybrid cars are newer, too, they are less worn down and corroded, meaning the metals are of higher quality.

If you drive any of these cars, then please make a special effort to protect it, simply parking it in the right area and maybe consider some sort of anti-theft device. At Reliance Bicester we have recently fitted a number of CATLOC solutions, visit their website for more detailed information or simply give our team a call on 01869 320032.

Where is catalytic converter theft most likely to happen?

Surprisingly, the majority of catalytic converter thefts occur on residential streets and driveways. The crime usually occurs at night, with thieves stealing the converter and promptly driving away.

To protect against it, we recommend parking your car in a well-lit area if possible, with any home security cameras pointed towards it. Thieves are often caught by cameras catching their vehicle’s licence plate.

That said, there have been rare instances where thieves have stolen catalytic converters from supermarket and employee car parks in broad daylight. Since the process is so quick, it carries a relatively low risk for seasoned professionals and organised gangs.

What is the industry doing to prevent catalytic converter theft??

There have been a number of awareness campaigns and developments recently from local police and councils. For example, UK police have partnered with a company called Smart Water Group to forensically mark converters. However, it is ultimately up to car manufacturers to invest and adapt, making it harder for thieves to continue the increasing trend of converter theft. Toyota – the most common car make to have its converters stolen – has taken steps to protect its customers. The Japanese carmaker has etched better serial numbers onto its catalytic converters so they can be tracked easier, thus disincentivising theft but this must only be the start, more must be done.

Developments such as these are essential to stamp this crime out.

Get in touch to book an appointment

If you’re concerned and worried about the potential theft of your vehicles cataytic converter, then simply get in touch with our friendly professionals at Reliance Auto Test, Bicester; we’re here to help!

Additionally, regular routine servicing and brake checks are crucial for increasing your vehicles longevity and maximising its performance. Not only does it work to rectify any current wear and tear in your vehicle, but it also effectively aids in preventing further damage from presenting itself in the future.


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