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Catalytic converter thefts rise as lockdown lifts

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

Latest data from the RAC and Ageas Insurance warn that vehicles parked during lockdown have seen an increase in targeted thefts by criminals stealing catalytic converters for their precious metals.


Reporting a “marked rise” in catalytic converter thefts since the beginning of UK lockdown in March 2020, Ageas Insurance warn that three out of ten theft claims reported are now related to catalytic converters, whereas pre-lockdown these figures were just one out of five.

It’s been reported by Ageas that many of these thefts have taken place whilst cars have been parked on home, both on driveways and roadsides. However, they also comment that there has been a small number of cases where thieves had targeted vehicles in supermarket car parks while the driver was shopping.

Simon Williams, RAC spokesman, said that “drivers are often oblivious of their vehicle’s catalytic converter being stolen… our patrols are often called to attend cars that have suddenly become excessively noisy, then on investigation it’s very often the case that the car’s catalytic converter has been stolen.”

Catalytic converters are a crucial element of a vehicle’s exhaust system, and they contain a honeycomb coated with precious metals including platinum, palladium and rhodium which all help to filter harmful gases from the vehicles’ exhaust systems.

According to the RAC, the global value of these metals has seen a significant increase during the pandemic, with prices of rhodium reaching more than 200% since March 2020. With this spike, theft follows.

This warning for both drivers and fleets, is further supported by CompareTheMarket, following their analysis of police data which revealed London has the highest instances of catalytic converter thefts over the three-year period, and each individual year, with a total of 15,237 from 2017 to 2020. Birmingham saw the second-highest number of thefts, all corresponding with the claims noted from CompareTheMarket. 

In order to combat this, the RAC has been recommending that both drivers and fleets begin taking extra precautions to guard themselves from this sort of theft. There are several habits they suggest adopting to do this, such as aim to park a vehicle in a well-lit, residential location or garage if available, particularly as most offences take place at night.

Williams comments, “when away from home, look for car parks that have security patrols and are covered by CCTV, it’s also a good idea to look for the ParkMark logo at car parks as this shows they have met certain security standards.”

That said, as Ageas’ data shows, Williams also adds that even taking sensible precautions may not necessarily make you immune to this type of crime.

Robin Challand, Claims Director at Ageas, said “while catalytic converters are just one component of a car, their theft can often result in a driver’s car being written off… we hope that by shining a spotlight on this type of crime, we can arm motorists with the information they need to protect their vehicles.”

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