Research from several police forces across the country indicates that thieves are now taking advantage of high scrap metal prices by stealing catalytic converters from cars.

It seems that these criminals are targeting vehicles with a high ground clearance, such as commercial vans, 4x4s and people carriers.

Bigger is better also seems to be the rule as the larger the vehicle the larger the catalytic converter unit is likely to be, thus a juicier target for the thieves.

Some Catalytic converters are simply bolted together and a thief armed with a simple spanner or socket can easily remove this part of the exhaust system,” said Inspector Brian Jones of Dyfed Powys Police Communities and Partnerships Department. “And it can take only a matter of minutes to remove one.

Offences have been committed in public car parks, garage forecourts, vehicle compounds and residential roads. But research suggests that dealerships and commercial companies are most at risk.

While the theft of the converter can net the offender in excess of £60.00 per vehicle, the costs to the owner to replace the item can run into several hundred pounds coupled with the inconvenience of the vehicle being off the road.

And because an owner won’t notice anything’s been taken until they drive the vehicle it can be difficult to know when the offence has happened.

Inspector Jones went on to say that vehicle owners, especially those that run 4x4s and commercial vans should be extra vigilant and should take as many of the following precautions as possible:

Property marking

Etching a catalytic converter with a vehicle registration mark will help police track a stolen converter to a specific victim and overtly advertising that a vehicle is protected by property marking may also deter offenders as it will potentially reduce the opportunities for selling on the converters at reputable scrap metal dealers. More information on ID etching can be found at

Welded Bolts

If a catalytic converter is a “bolt on” it is possible to have the bolts welded shut. This is only a deterrent to the lowest grade of catalytic converter thief working with a spanner but may still be enough of a deterrent to help prevent a theft.

Catalytic Converter Protective Sleeves

Protective coverings are quite expensive but make it much more difficult for the saw wielding thief to steal catalytic converters.

Defensive Parking

If it is possible to block access to high-clearance vehicles by using natural structures such as walls and other low clearance vehicles to help prevent access underneath. Think where you park and try to limit access whilst maintaining any natural surveillance there may be. Consider allowing employees to take vehicles home to more secure parking locations than industrial estates.

Effective Security Lighting

Good security lighting can make vehicles more visible and improve natural surveillance. External dusk to dawn lighting which automatically stays on during the hours of darkness and goes off as it starts to get light in areas where there is good surveillance from other people, makes the target less attractive.

CCTV / Alarms

The installation of CCTV to cover parking areas can help reduce theft. Remote monitored CCTV could even stop catalytic converter theft before it happens if the monitoring centre can notify the police in real time as an offence takes place. The use of driveway alarms can help alert you to anyone trespassing on your property

Perimeter Security

Fencing is the first line of defence for most compounds and regular checks of fences for damage, ensuring any holes etc are quickly and properly repaired will help deter the opportunistic catalytic thief.  There are many types of security fencing and increasing the protection afforded by this feature will help prevent or at least slow down the more determined thief.

For more information on this subject please contact your local police force using their non-emergency contact number.

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