Borough Insight

Catalytic converter thefts

Catalytic converter theft is currently a national issue with thefts dramatically increasing.

Just before Christmas and into the New Year, Epsom and Ewell saw a spate of incidents across the borough. Surrey Police say the vehicles targeted were predominantly Lexus RX, Toyota Prius and the Honda Jazz and the majority of thefts happened during the daylight hours.

The catalytic converter is part of the car’s emissions control system. It cleans up the exhaust gases before they are expelled from the car through the exhaust pipe. Its internal elements react with the gases, breaking them down into less harmful substances and water vapour. All cars sold in Europe since 1993 have had to be fitted with catalytic converter by law.

Stolen units are usually shipped overseas where they are stripped for the precious metals contained within them, including palladium, rhodium and platinum.

Victims of catalytic converter theft are often faced with a hefty repair bill. Not only do they have to arrange a replacement part, but damage done to the car during the theft can result in a repair bill of running into £thousands.

Here are some tips to prevent catalytic converter theft issued by Surrey Police:Cat theft

  • Park in as well-lit areas where possible.
  • Park close to building entrances or the nearest road in public car parks. This leaves your vehicle in a location where many people can see it.
  • If you have a garage use it and keep it locked.
  • Consider CCTV if your vehicle is parked on your driveway or a RING-type device.
  • Adjust the security system on your car or have one installed that will activate upon vibration, such as those produced by a saw.
  • Install a catalytic converter-specific security device, such as ‘ARMACAT’ or ‘CATLOC’ - https://blog.toyota.co.uk/catalytic-converter-theft-how-to-protect-your-car
  • Consider ID Etching - Etching a catalytic converter with a serial number will help police track a stolen converter 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 www.retainagroup.co.uk
  • Consider 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 wrench but may still be enough of a deterrent to help prevent a theft.
  • Report suspicious activity to the Police. Obtain as much information as possible, including any vehicle registrations - do not put yourself at risk.

Anyone with information can call 101. In an emergency or if a crime is in progress always dial 999.

Alternatively, if you do not wish to leave your name, please call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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