A new breed of “cat burglar” is taking to the streets, and it appears no one’s vans are safe.
The high price of catalytic converters means that they have become almost the same as having a gold bar strapped precariously to the underside of your vehicle. They are easy pickings for thieves who flog them to recyclers for the rare metals they contain, or sell them onto other motorists and garages to save on the price of new ones.
This issue is becoming more than an expensive nuisance for commercial vehicle fleets, with the number of thefts more than doubling from 1100 incidents to 2300 over a five month period as the value of platinum, palladium and rhodium from which the converters are made increases.
Bluefin Insurance says that not only can the cost of replacing the catalytic converter be high, but the damage caused in removing it is equally expensive, if not more so.
Businesses with van fleets are particularly vulnerable as thieves can hit multiple vehicles in one location, causing the cost to mount thousands for even small fleets. The vehicles most at risk are those that sit higher from the ground – that includes most vans, then – because thieves can slide underneath without having to jack up the vehicle.
Take precautions to protect vehicles such as storing them in a locked building or yard where possible, installing security lighting and camerasis the message from Bluefin. They also suggest engraving the vehicles’ licence plate number onto the converter to make it traceable.