New twist to the tale of cat burglars

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A new generation of ‘cat burglars’ are stalking streets. (Source: Business Car Manager)

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High priced catalytic converters on company vehicles can be easy pickings for the metal 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.

According to latest figures the practice, which involves removing the converter from the exhaust pipe has doubled 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, which has 45 offices across the country, says that not only can the cost of replacing the catalytic converter be high, but the damage caused to the vehicle can also be extensive. Businesses with fleets of vehicles are particularly vulnerable because thieves can hit multiple vehicles in a single location, adding up to thousands of pounds worth of damage.

A Bluefin spokesperson said, “Prices for scrap metal have been on a general upward path since late 2008 which, along with the global economic recession, has revived criminal interest. It may only take a few seconds for the thief to remove the converter but it can cause major disruptions to a business if several vehicles are targeted, costing a small fortune to repair and halting operations for several days.”

Vehicles that sit higher from the ground such as trucks, pickups and SUVs are particularly vulnerable to catalytic converter theft because thieves can slide underneath without having to jack up the vehicle.

"Corporate fleets should take precautions to protect their vehicles such as storing them in a locked building or yard where possible. Installing security lighting and cameras will also act as a deterrent to thieves.”

Bluefin also suggests engraving the vehicle's licence plate number onto the converter to make it traceable which may also make thieves think twice about taking the part and help local police investigations.

Tips to prevent catalytic converter theft:

▪        Always park in well lit areas

▪        Park within a fenced area or locked building whenever possible

▪        Engrave licence plate number on the converter to make it traceable

Check out the difference types of catalytic converter theft deterrent systems at your local auto parts store

Your business car insurance could be invalidated if you do not comply with special requirements regarding overnight storage of vehicles and it’s particularly important for company vans .

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