Pricey metals lure Australian thieves to strip cars of catalytic converters

16 June 2021 - 09:53 By Reuters
Thieves in Australia are stealing catalytic converters from vehicles because they contain expensive precious metals.
Thieves in Australia are stealing catalytic converters from vehicles because they contain expensive precious metals.
Image: lapis2380 / 123rf

Police in South Australia urged drivers on Wednesday to step up efforts to protect their cars as thieves target the catalytic converters that scrub exhaust emissions during a surge in prices of precious metals.

The converters, which strip particulate matter from emissions, contain high volumes of platinum and palladium. The prices of both precious metals touched records this year.

"Thefts have occurred in residential driveways, public carparks and on main roads with public presence not seeming to deter offenders," state police said, adding that the devices were then sold on the secondhand market.

After several arrests, they are encouraging owners to mark or engrave the devices with the vehicle identification number, as well as making them harder to remove, for instance by welding in the retaining bolts.

Other measures include parking in locked or well-lit areas and near walls or fences with the car bonnet facing a solid object to discourage access to the converter.

Prices of platinum are up 38% from a year ago at $1,173 (about R16,000) an ounce and  palladium is up 43% at $2,758 (about R38,000) an ounce.


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