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Catalytic converter thefts rising, say police

Officers urge vehicle owners to take preventive measures

A vehicle that has had its catalytic converter removed Photograph by Seth Sawyers released via Creative Commons BY 2.0
A vehicle that has had its catalytic converter removed
Photograph by Seth Sawyers released via Creative Commons BY 2.0

Hertfordshire police say drivers need to be vigilant following an increase in the theft of catalytic converters from vehicles.

Thefts are taking place during the day and at night in public places and on private property.

Officers say there are measures that can be taken to reduce the chance of becoming a victim.

On Friday morning 11 October a Brookmans Park resident parked his Toyota Auris hybrid in the public car park at Potters Bar station. When he returned four hours later at 3pm the catalytic converter had been removed.

The local resident says he started his car and drove off before he noticed a grating noise. He stopped, looked under the car, and saw a piece of metal hanging down. At first he thought he had picked something up from the road, but then he noticed the metal was bolted to the car at one end.

He started his car again and noticed a noise which he described as being “like a tractor”. Normally he says the car starts quietly because it uses electric power at low speed.

He contacted the dealership where he purchased the car and described the noise and was told his catalytic converter had been stolen. The incident was reported to British Transport Police.

Catalytic converters contain precious metals which is why they are attractive to thieves. They can be removed with a hacksaw or wrench in less than a minute.

According to The Guardian, hybrid cars are more likely to be targeted by thieves because they have higher amounts of precious metals than petrol-only cars, and their catalytic converters tend to be in better condition because they are not used when the vehicles run on electricity.

A catalytic converter attached to a vehicle Photograph by Ballista released via Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0
A catalytic converter attached to a vehicle
Photograph by Ballista released via Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0

What you can do to reduce the risk of theft

Police in Hertfordshire have issued the following advice:

  • If you are unable to lock your car in a garage, reverse it against a wall or fence, or park it as close to the kerb as possible in order to make it difficult for thieves to access the catalytic converter.
  • If you leave your car in a car park overnight, be sure to look for one with a Secured Car Park sign, as this means it will have recognised levels of security.
  • If you leave your car on your street, or on your drive, consider installing CCTV cameras to deter thieves.
  • You can also get your catalytic converter forensically marked, get protective coverings fitted on it, or have the bolts securing it in place welded to make removal more difficult.

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