Numbers of catalytic converter and exhaust system theft have remained high since 2013 when the UK experienced in excess of 25,000 reported incidents. With multiple thefts recorded as one incident, the actual number of catalytic converters stolen is essentially much higher. Many fleet operators have seen costs increase due to multiple items / vehicles being stolen during a single incident of theft.
Previously, owners of high ground clearance vehicles such as 4x4s, people carriers, light commercial vehicles and motor homes were targeted more often due to the ease of access; during 2018 we saw a shift towards car owners now becoming targets.
It can be difficult to understand the full individual implications following a theft of an exhaust system, but consideration should be made for:
Why steal an exhaust system or catalytic converter?
Most are located under the vehicle and only held on with bolts that can be undone and removed in a few minutes. In some instances, thieves will opt to cut them off, but the regularity of this method is far lower than most people are led to believe.
It is commonly reported that theft is due to the trace element of expensive and rare metals that catalytic converters contain. This may be true in some instances but most thefts are thought to supply the spare parts black market. If a new replacement exhaust can cost upwards of £2000, a good condition, genuine, stolen part can sell for as much as half of this price with the end customer being unaware as to where their replacement part was sourced from.
Penalties are generally lenient if caught so criminals see stealing catalytic converters as low risk, but with high potential rewards.