UK Van Fleets Warned Following Spike in Catalytic Converter Theft

A surge in the number of thefts of catalytic converters from vans across the UK has prompted a leading vehicle security specialist to warn businesses of the risks to their operational capability.

Fleet operators are being urged to review their site security procedures in the run up to Christmas following a spike in the number of catalytic converter thefts. More than 50 vehicles were targeted recently in nighttime raids at industrial estates in Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and South Wales.

According to the leading UK manufacturer of catalytic converter protection systems, CATLOC, which is warning fleets to take extra precautions, immobilised stock results in fleets being hit with average repair bills of at least £2,000 each, sometimes costing as much as £10,000, plus further losses from hiring replacement vehicles, penalties from missed deliveries or losing business contracts altogether.

Historically, thieves targeted catalytic converters for metals such as Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium, which could be sold to scrap metal dealers for between £50 and £400. In response to this issue, which was costing the UK economy £770 million annually according to police estimates, the Government introduced The Scrap Metal Dealers Act in October 2013 that included a ban on cash payments.

Since then, police forces have seen a decline in theft but CATLOC believes this latest spike is due to thieves stealing the parts for re-sale overseas as second hand units or for scrap value in countries where cash is still used. Paul Chase, Managing Director of On Board Defence, which owns the CATLOC brand, said:

“Legislation has certainly helped to tackle the problem of precious metal theft but the police have now identified a growing problem of direct export, where thieves are stealing these parts for re-sale on the international black market.”

Protecting around 40,000 vehicles per year with its anti-theft system for catalytic converters and Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF), approved by a number of vehicle manufacturers, CATLOC is urging fleets to minimise the risk of theft by implementing improved security measures.

Commented Paul Chase:

"Wherever possible, vehicles should be parked so that it’s difficult or impossible for thieves to get underneath and ideally in well-lit areas. Of course, the ultimate deterrent is protecting the catalytic converter with an approved anti-theft device such as CATLOC.”


Notes to Editors:

Based in Banbury, On Board Defence designs and develops innovative security products predominantly for the aftermarket automotive sector. CATLOC is recommended by vehicle manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Renault and Volkswagen and is specified for van fitment by a number of fleets including BT, PHS and Balfour Beatty.