Agencies in Europe and North America are reporting huge spikes in the theft of catalytic converters.
Catalytic converters have been around for decades as they help transform carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons, into less harmful carbon dioxide and water vapour. The device, which is part of the vehicle’s exhaust system, contain platinum, palladium, and rhodium and thieves are reselling those metals for sizeable profit.
The theft is relatively simple as crooks only need access to the undercarriage of the vehicle and about 3-5 minutes. UK insurers are reporting that 1/3 of insurance theft payouts in 2020 were catalytic converter related. Ontario and BC officials (Canada) are reporting huge increases in theft, doubling year-over-year for last few years.
Unfortunately, there is little car owners can do apart from parking their vehicles inside their garages. Business owners with car and van fleets are being hit hard as they have fewer options to park indoors. Some manufacturers have introduced anti-theft options (such as Toyota’s Catlock) but most vehicles on the road have no deterrents.