Catalytic Converter Thefts

Catalytic Converter Thefts

My Car Check Explores the 'Perfect Storm' that's driving a record number of Catalytic Converter Thefts

A new study from My Car Check shows how high rhodium prices and more hybrid vehicles are creating the perfect environment for car thieves.

The past 18 months has seen a huge surge in the theft of catalytic converters. In fact, according to My Car Check's own data, the UK is on track to see an estimated 44% increase on last year's figures.

Using data taken from police forces across the country, My Car Check has looked into the forces driving this crime spree and has found a perfect storm in which the rewards have never been higher and the opportunities have never been better.

The main culprits are the price of rhodium and the growing number of hybrid cars on UK roads.

catalytic converter

Rhodium, a precious metal extracted from the mining of palladium is currently reaching record highs. When My Car Check looked at all catalytic converter thefts in the UK since 2015 and plotted these against the peak price of rhodium for these years, it was found that the number of thefts tracked against the highs for the mineral.

Caused by stockpiling by car manufacturers, the price of rhodium has skyrocketed in the past three years. A rush on vehicles reliant on catalytic converters in Europe and China has seen manufacturers rush to stockpile the metal, distorting the market and causing the price to go through the roof.

With 2021 already seeing the metal reach highs of over $30,000 per ounce as car manufacturers in China gearing up to meet the demand that has built up during the COVID lockdowns - MCC predict that the price, as well as car thefts, are only projected to increase.

My Car Check's data also shows that the popularity of hybrid vehicles in the UK could be a driving factor behind the recent increase in thefts.

Although many cars are at risk, thieves are particularly interested in hybrid cars as these often contain catalytic converters that are less worn and are therefore more valuable. In recent years, Toyota's Prius and Auris models have been targeted specifically due to being hybrids which has made the manufacturer step up security on catalytic converters.

The years between 2015 and 2020 has seen a 10 fold increase in the number of hybrid cars on Britain's roads, and unfortunately this means there's a lot of juicy targets for car thieves - especially in larger cities like London, Manchester and Birmingham.

Comparing crime data with SMMT figures for the number of hybrid cars registered in the UK, My Car Check has also uncovered that the number of thefts also follows the number of registrations - creating a perfect storm with criminals taking advantage of plentiful opportunities and big rewards.

The bad news - My Car Check predicts its a trend that won't stop soon. Continuing hortages of Rhodium mean that things will no doubt carry on as they are until manufacturers use up their stockpiles or switch to another mineral. Therefore, MCC is urging owners to recognise the risks, be extra vigilant and take care to protect vulnerable vehicles.

To prevent catalytic converter thefts, My Car Check recommends that owners:

Keep their car locked away

Make use of a garage and lock away your car when it is not in use. This is an immediate barrier between thieves and your car. Of course, some people do not have the use of a garage, but there are other options.

Park strategically

If you aren't able to use a garage, you can park in such a way that prevents access to the underside of the car. Thieves will need to slide under the car to take the catalytic converter off, so if you park in a way that stops them from doing so, they will be unable and unwilling to steal it.

Install outward facing CCTV

Another idea is to install security cameras facing out towards the area your car is parked. This could act as a deterrent for thieves, or it may capture them in the act helping you to identify and potentially prosecute.

Install a loud alarm

If someone tries to steal your catalytic converter, making a racket with a loud alarm might stop thieves in their tracks. This might be a good choice if you live in an area where thefts are increasing, or if you are not able to get access to a garage.

Weld the bolts closed

One final idea, which will cost money but be very effective, is to get a mechanic to weld all bolts. This will make the catalytic converter far more difficult to remove.

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