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Will the theft of CATS affect business?

Cat. coverters - CATS

According to an article in Autoexpress in January, figures show that since 2013 close to 13,000 catalytic converters (CATS) have been stolen from vehicle exhaust systems.

Cars are being jacked up by criminal gangs to steel CATS in order to sell the precious metal found within.

Police data reveals 1,245 were stolen from vehicles in 2017 despite manufacturers efforts in making cats less accessible to thieves.

It is predicted by experts that thefts will continue to increase. Public affairs manager at the British Metals Recycling Association, Antonia Grey, told The Times ‘that cuts to council and police budgets mean laws introduced in 2013 to crack down on metal theft are “no longer being enforced”’.

‘Introduced in 2013, the laws made it illegal for metal recyclers to pay cash for scrap and required sellers to produce identity documents. Grey explained: “Illegal operators are so unconcerned that they are openly advertising cash for scrap and many of them will no longer have the required scrap metal dealer licence.

“It is highly likely that people stealing catalytic converters will head to these cash-paying yards rather than legitimate sites.”’

We asked Dafydd Dylan, Commercial Manager (Catalytic Converters) at FJ Church & Sons, a market leader in the buying of catalytic converters in the UK, for his thoughts on if this news will affect his business and whether this will increase prices of CATS, he said:

“There are two main drivers of catalytic converter theft in my opinion. Firstly, as with any commodity, when the prices increase the likelihood of thefts also increase. We have seen a significant rise in the price of palladium and Rhodium in particular over the last 12 months, meaning that the number of petrol vehicles, the converters on which were traditionally seen as ‘low grade’ are now far more valuable, so it’s not just your high end vehicles or vans that are at risk any more. This price increase has created a ‘hype’ surrounding the price of some high palladium units.

“Secondly, it is still relatively easy and less risky for thieves to target catalyst rather than lower value scrap, as it’s easier to steal, move and sell with very little traceability once the unit is off a car. Add this to the endemic level of cash payments still plaguing the catalyst industry – then it’s hardly a surprise that thefts are rising. It won’t stop until the authorities start to clamp down on the cash paying operators and support the handful of legitimate UK converter buyers doing it to the letter of the law, they have only so far created legislation that falls into the hands of illegal operators.”

“ We’ve seen a notable change in the sales patters of our core (yards) business, who are clearly more security conscious now and are continually bottoming out their stocks. We’ve adapted our service to accommodate this, on a nationwide scale in some cases.”

“ At F J Church we do what we can to deter any business that we deem not to be genuine and turn any business away that doesn’t seem legitimate, or that can’t provide an audit trail of the units to our liking. It’s a case of using common sense and abiding by the law of ‘knowing your customer.”

Other figures from the Home Office show the total number of thefts from vehicles increased 14 per cent last year to 656,000 incidents.

It seems large 4×4 SUVs are at high risk of having their CATS stolen according to warnings from the AA this is due to their increased height, making it easier for thieves to get underneath.

At the end of last year, according to the article, ‘police warned that thieves were using high-powered hydraulic equipment to raise cars off the ground in broad daylight and steal their catalytic converters. One incident saw several cars targeted in a supermarket car park in south-east London within the space of a few minutes.’

It is advised to park vehicles either in secure garages or in well-lit areas also marking the metal shell of the converter helps so that it can be traced.


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Adam Hewitt

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The views and opinions expressed on ATF Professional are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the editor, publisher or staff of ATF Professional.


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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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