LINCOLNSHIRE Police have issued advice to motorists on how to guard against catalytic converters thefts after a recent increase in the crime.
Metal thefts in general have rapidly risen due to the global value of scrap and theft of catalytic converters has become an emerging trend in Lincolnshire.
Crime Prevention Officer, PC Nic Hanson, said: “A Landrover catalytic converter can net a thief around £100 for two minutes work, a crime that may then cost the owner up to £900 to rectify.
“We urge motorists to take steps to make their vehicles less attractive to thieves which will help reduce the number of offences and ask the public to be vigilant and report all suspicious activity.”
Why a catalytic converter is valuable - This device designed to reduce carbon emissions in the environment, may seem like an odd thing to steal.
However, it’s not the component that is so valuable. Catalytic converters are partly composed of platinum, a metal more valuable than gold. When the platinum is extracted, it can be worth hundreds of pounds. A new one can cost you £300 or more to replace.
Thieves take the converters to a scrap yard for quick cash and the converters are then sold on to metalsmiths who use advanced tools and processes to extract the platinum can then sell it at a much higher value.
How the theft occurs - Your converter is attached to the undercarriage of your car with a few simple bolts. It takes between 60 and 90 seconds for a thief to slide beneath your vehicle with a socket wrench, unscrew the bolts holding your converter in place, or to use a plumber’s tool to cut the pipe, detach the component and walk away.
How to detect if your converter has been stolen - You don’t need to crawl underneath your car to know if your catalytic converter has been stolen. You should be able to tell as soon as you start your vehicle. If you suddenly notice a loud, continuous noise that sounds like your exhaust has fallen off, it’s likely you’ve been a victim of catalytic converter theft.
The following precautions may help to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of theft:
Have the converter engraved – Lincolnshire Police will be commencing a catalytic converter engraving initiative in certain areas of the county shortly. Whilst this won’t prevent the act of theft, the displaying of a notice in a vehicle window stating that the converter has been security marked, may act as a deterrent to thieves who will not want to take an item that will be harder to sell on and easier for Police to trace to a theft.
Have the converter welded onto your car - To prevent thieves from stealing your catalytic converter, you could have your mechanic weld it on. The main drawback is that, should you ever need to have it repaired or replaced, it will be more difficult to do so and will be more expensive.
Park strategically - Park in well-lit areas and consider the use of motion sensor lighting on driveways.
If you have multiple vehicles, use your vehicle that has the lowest clearance underneath to block the vehicle with the higher clearance. 4x4s and trucks are popular targets because the chassis are higher up and the thief can slide under the vehicle easier. Blocking that access with a lower-riding car makes that more difficult.
Invest in a lock - Invest in a specially devised lock that secures your converter, and you could save yourself time and money in the long run.