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Catalytic converter theft on rise in lockdown, warns RAC

Theft of catalytic converters has surged in lockdown as thieves capitalise on fast-rising prices for precious metals.

Catalytic converter crime theft now accounts for one in three of all theft claims reported, as opposed to one in five

Ageas Insurance says it has seen a marked rise in theft of catalytic converters since the start of the first lockdown just over a year ago. For the first three months of 2021, stolen catalytic converters accounted for one in three (29.7%) of all theft crimes reported compared to one in five (19.8%) for Q4 2019.

The rise is down to a spike in prices for precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, which are contained in the catalytic converters. Prices of rhodium hit a record high earlier this year, up more than 200% since March 2020.

And when global values of these metals go up, it usually leads to a spate of thefts.

The theft of a catalytic converter often results in the car being written off, according to Ageas, which is warning drivers to protect their vehicles.

The RAC also said that drivers should start taking precautions and thinking about vehicle security. Most thefts happen while cars are parked at home, either on the driveway or the road, although in a very small number of cases thieves have been brazen enough to steal them in supermarket car parks while the driver was shopping.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “We’d strongly recommend motorists get in the habit of taking extra precautions to guard against this type of crime. Generally-speaking, most car crime takes place at night, so it makes sense to park a vehicle in a well-lit and residential location, or ideally in a garage if available.

“When away from home, look for car parks that have security patrols and are covered by CCTV. It’s also a good idea to look for the ParkMark logo at car parks as this shows they have met certain security standards.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.