Increase in catalytic converter thefts

Image credit: Pixabay (Arcaion)

In about three years, there have been more than 1,500 reports of catalytic converter theft in Brabant. The increase is explosive, as three years ago, there were only 70 reports of theft of the auto part. In fact, in the first three months of this year, the most stolen catalytic converters were reported in our province in the whole of the Netherlands.

The reason thieves target catalytic converters is because of the precious earth metals they contain. Platinum, palladium and rhodium have skyrocketed in value in recent years because they are increasingly in demand. The first two precious metals are used in smartphones, for example.

Lucrative thefts

Catalytic converters clean exhaust gases through a chemical reaction. Therefore, a catalytic converter contains three grams of platinum. With the current exchange rate, that’s 100 euros, regardless of the other metals it contains. It quickly adds up to a few hundred euros in total. However, there are car brands that use much more precious metal to make the exhaust even cleaner.

Thieves strike at lightning speed. They crawl under a car or put it on a jack. Sometimes they even lay the car on its side to reach the exhaust. Then they cut or slit the exhaust, after which they can disconnect the catalytic converter and get away in a few minutes. According to the police, not only gangs steal catalytic converters but also loners who want to make a quick buck.

Criminal hot spots

The police see many thefts in and around Eindhoven, Helmond and Oss. “The hotspots often change, but thieves often return to the same places after a while,” the police said. Some people have already been victims of catalytic converter theft twice. Particularly owners of hybrid Toyotas are frequent victims.

Since the first quarter of this year, Brabant has been well ahead of the rest of the Netherlands with 325 reports of catalytic converter theft. André Bouwman of the National Intelligence and Expertise Centre Vehicle Crime (LIV) is shocked by this. “And then this is not even all I think.”

When to report?

That Bouwman thinks the number of catalyst thefts is still much higher has two reasons. “Not everyone reports it. If you have all-risk insurance, you will be compensated for your damage if a report is filed. If you have third-party insurance, no payment is made. Reporting then makes little sense because the chance of being caught is also low.”

The other reason, according to the LIV spokesperson, is that it regularly happens that the whole car is stolen. “That is reported, but very often the car is later found elsewhere without a catalytic converter. Only then is no report made of the catalytic converter being stolen, even though it really was stolen.”

Extra police checks and education

Catching suspects is difficult for police because thieves actually have to be caught in the act. Sometimes they succeed, but in just a few cases, because thieves get away so quickly. Another option is that a suspect is caught during a check because he has several catalytic converters in his car and cannot explain their origin.

Particularly in areas with high theft rates, the police carry out extra checks. In addition, the main focus is on education. “We recently distributed flyers together with the municipality of Eindhoven to alert people to this theft,” says the Southeast Brabant police.

Source: Omroep Brabant

Translator: Martijn


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