UK Surge in Catalytic Converter Theft Attempts Continues

Catalytic Converter Thefts

 

This week the Farsight CCTV operations team were prompted once again to remain on high alert following incidents involving catalytic converter theft attempts at motor dealer showrooms and commercial vehicle forecourts across the UK.

With car parts supply chains slowing during the pandemic as well as rising values of the precious metals contained in catalytic converters, the black market trade in car parts is driving car parts theft at an industrial scale.

We have seen another significant surge in car parts theft attempts in 2021, with organised gangs of thieves targeting car parts, particularly catalytic converters  and we are not alone

The media is bursting with catalytic converter theft reports this April. The Guardian highlighted a ‘Surge in UK catalytic converter theft continues…’ and Sky News warns drivers ‘to protect their cars as value of precious metal rhodium soars.’

You don’t have to search the news media to hard to find a raft of catalytic converter theft reports across the UK over the past two months weeks alone – like these:

> Greater Manchester: “Thieves steal catalytic converter from car on Wasdale Avenue, Breightmet” – The Bolton News 19th March 2021

> South Gloucestershire: “Motorists warned after catalytic converters stolen in Yate” – The South Costwolds Gazette 18th March 2021

> South Staffordshire : “Appeal after series of catalytic converter thefts by gang” – Express & Star 16th March 2021

> Nottinghamshire: “Police warning after spate of catalytic converter thefts in Gedling borough” – Gedling Eye 12th March 2021

> Dorset: “Warning after catalytic converter thefts in New Forest and North Dorset” – Bournemouth Echo 11th March 2021

 

Is Catalytic Converter Theft Spiralling out of Control?

With reports of 1,000 catalytic converters a month being stolen in London alone, it is clear that this type of threat is spiralling out of control. According to the Guardian, the big insurers have reported seeing as much as 600% increase in claims involving stolen catalytic convertors costing on average £1,000 per claim.

This increase has been exacerbated by the soaring value of the metals contained in small quantities inside certain catalytic converters which include platinum, palladium, and rhodium. Rhodium on its own has 4 x the value of gold.

The BBC reported in business news recently that there are 10,000 different catalytic converters, and generally criminals prefer to steal from hybrid vehicles as these have two power sources – fuel and electric. These are less frequently used and cause less corrosion, making them more valuable.

It becomes obvious why brand new, unused catalytic converters parked on display on dealership forecourts would be an attractive prospect to thieves. With the help of a jack and a power hacksaw, gangs can strip the parts from under a parked car in minutes and this type of theft is harder to detect as the criminals are generally hidden from view under cars. Often,  the only visible sign of the theft attempt is the car rising or falling as it gets jacked up. In the case of come commercial vans that sit higher off the ground, jacks are even required!

When responding to alarms, the Farsight CCTV operators respond to one incident at a time, so they are able to give each incident their undivided attention, as these types of incident would be easily missed by an operator watching multiple sites at once. Read more about this here: ‘Is your CCTV monitoring giving you their undivided attention?’

It is thought thieves are making between £300-£500 per converter  which are sold overseas through scrap metal dealers.  With a theft only taking minutes, this poses a lucrative nights work for brazen criminal gangs who seem to target multiple vehicles in a geographically targeted sweep…

Reported Catalytic Converter Theft rose significantly in 2020 across the UK

catalytic convertor thefts

The theft of catalytic converters continued to rise across the UK in 2020, with the numbers being stolen increasing six-fold, according to new research from Compare The Market. In London alone thefts of catalytic converters increased by over 3800% YOY from 2019 to 2020.

These ten cities have the highest reported catalytic converter theft rates in 2020:

Rank

Town/City

2017/18 thefts

2018/19 thefts

2019/20 Thefts

Total

1

London

154

2,600

12,483

15,237

2

Birmingham

26

62

232

320

3

Coventry

23

31

233

287

4

Cambridge

4

20

142

166

5

Luton

5

33

63

101

6

Peterborough

11

8

56

75

7

Derby

7

14

50

71

8

Wolverhampton

2

4

63

69

9

Manchester

5

16

45

66

10

Bristol

5

9

44

58

 

The study was compiled from information provided by 20 of the 33 UK police forces, so only gives a partial national view. Of the forces that responded to this study, Warrington, Wolverhampton and Coventry have seen the biggest YOY increase in catalytic converter thefts. Read more about catalytic converter thefts in our article here.

 

Optimising vehicle forecourt security

With the threats posed by opportunists and organised crime to motor dealerships and commercial vehicle forecourts, whether part of large automotive retail groups or independents, it is clear that effective security is vital to protecting assets, premises and people.

It is estimated by UHY Hacker Young that the value of inventory that is held by UK car dealerships on the forecourts is as high as £27.3 billion, which demonstrates the significant level of risk that these businesses must mitigate. As such, maintaining and optimising the security of car showrooms and vehicle retail forecourts is a key priority and one that most take very seriously.

Increasingly, the use of CCTV and remote CCTV monitoring station partners is being considered as a crucial measure, as part many security systems and strategies to protect their assets, premises and people.

The use of CCTV and CCTV remote monitoring has many benefits in protected businesses from vehicle crime, such as the potential to proactively deter incidents in real time and to prevent them progressing with a rapid response escalation in contrast to retrospective reflection once the incident has happened and loss/damage has occurred.

See how remote monitoring with Farsight works:

Speak to the remote monitoring security experts

Farsight has worked across the automotive sector, particularly car dealerships car showrooms and vehicle hire groups for many years and considers itself as a leading remote security monitoring partner working with businesses large and small.

Our security team would be happy to discuss your security optimisation needs to help you mitigate against the threat of catalytic converter theft  or vehicle crime, whether you are a security installer or responsible for site security. Simply drop us a line via our contact form below, request a call back or give us a call on 0845 371 0101.

Further reading

We have produced several articles and guides that may help you in making important decisions in optimising site security at car showroom site(s) or car dealership forecourt(s).

> Why do you need remote monitoring services?
15 factors to consider when considering a remote monitoring partner
Where to position CCTV cameras in your business
What are audio warnings and how do they work?
How lighting can make all the difference
20 simple ways to improve your business security