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Watch out: Theft of catalytic converters are on the rise

Latest Motor News // 21 November 2019

In recent months you may have heard about the rise in thefts of catalytic converters. London in particular has had the most stolen catalytic converters in the country, with over 2,894 having been reported stolen this year alone. This is an increase of 1,220 since 2018. But why should you care?

What is the purpose of a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter is one of the most important parts of your car, it works to remove the harmful emissions your car produces before they exit your exhaust pipe. In 1993 it became the law for all petrol cars manufactured in the UK to have a catalytic converter fitted, to meet the European emissions standards. Therefore, a vehicle will not be able to pass its MOT if it doesn’t have a catalytic converter within its exhaust system.

A diagram of a cars exhaust system

Where would you find a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter can be found under your car in a box and is attached to the exhaust system. You will probably find it on the right of the vehicle, but you can’t miss it due to its obvious oval shape. This means it’s quite easy to remove quickly without anyone passers-by noticing. In fact, in a recent video seen by the BBC, a group of people can be seen stealing one in under 3 minutes in broad daylight.

Why would a catalytic converter get stolen?

The reason catalytic converter theft is on the rise is due to the value of the component itself. The price of the metals in the component have increased drastically in the last 18 months! There are 2 metals in the catalytic converters that are particularly expensive, palladium and rhodium. Palladium is now worth £1,300/oz and rhodium currently sells for £4,000/oz. With prices like that, you can see why thefts of these car components are on the rise.

How do I know if my catalytic converter has been stolen?

If your catalytic converter has been stolen, you’ll be able to notice a few things:

  1. The exhaust fumes will be a medium to dark smoke
  2. The noise coming from your exhaust will be considerably louder than usual
  3. There will be a box missing under your car, located at the beginning of your exhaust system

Catalytic converters are needed for your car to pass its MOT and to reduce the affects your vehicle has on the environment, so we would strongly advise to keep a look out for thieves in your local area.