Beware of the converter thieves this Christmas

Catalytic Converter $100

Image by VirtualErn via Flickr

IF you are the unlucky one driving friends this Christmas to a Christmas party, then beware of the Catalytic Converter thieves – they can potentially cost.


With the festive season upon us, those tempted to drive friends to a festive party, and leave their cars in unlit places, do so at their own risk, and should heed the following warning from AA.


I came back from Kwik Fit today after taking my car in for an exhaust problem that ended up being down to potential thieves trying to steal the catalytic converter on my 4*4.


The Kwik Fit mechanic from Weybridge, Surrey, said that the potential thieves had tried to jack up my car, in broad daylight to steal it.


He told me: “They had obviously been spooked by someone or something luckily.”


“In some cases, these people use kids to do the jacking. Normally they are gypsies”


“I have seen a lot of these types of things. People come in asking for converters. I just tell them where to get off.”

He added: “It’s not very nice is it, to find your car exhaust off?”


They had even left part of the broken car jack in the side bit underneath which the mechanic had yanked it out of the underneath.


 According to the AA website, due to tough economic times since 2008, thieves nick the converters due to them having precious metals which are sold on to metal scrap dealers for a few quid.


The website adds : “Taller vehicles (4x4s) are particularly vulnerable as the converters are more accessible. Because they tend to have larger engines, they contain more of the precious metals too.  The ceramic honeycomb has to undergo a chemical process known as 'carbochlorination' to recover the precious metals it contains – generally abroad in countries such as China, Poland, Canada and Latvia.”

Once an unmarked converter has been removed from a vehicle it's quite difficult to match it to that vehicle as there aren't any distinguishing marks.”

The AA recommend that you mark your converter, as it will be easier to trace if it does go walkabout.

According to the BBC website, just over 1,100 were taken across Britain, not including London, during the whole of 2009.


In the first five months of this year 2011, more than 2,300 were stolen with the south and east of England among the worst affected areas.


Paul Crowther heads up the police's action against metal theft, and told the BBC in August this year: “They simply don't give a damn what the impact is of taking something which they get relatively small amounts of cash for.”

He added: “One of the saddest facts about this is that for a few pounds at the scrap dealer, people will cause hundreds of pounds of damage and disruption to someone's everyday life."


*AA say you should garage your car or van where possible. Park in well lit busy areas.  Mark the converter so it can be traced.  Keep an eye on people working on cars, or looking suspicious in car parks.

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