Gardai warn car owners to watch out for CAT burglars
* Thieves target precious metals in catalytic converters - Replacement could cost €1,500, gardai say
GARDAI here are warning car owners to be on alert as thieves are targeting catalytic converters for precious metals.
Theft of the devices, fitted to the exhaust system to help remove poisonous gases, has become a "significant criminal phenomenon" across the EU according to Interpol.
Many of the thieves belong to mobile organised crime groups, operating across borders and covering long distances.
Gardai here describe it as an 'ongoing problem' and urged owners to regularly check their cars - to ensure they still have converters.
Replacing one could cost as much as €1,500. Cars will fail their NCT without one.
A Garda spokesman said: "We are affected in a similar way to the other European countries. It does affect the public here."
He said it can be difficult to protect the converters as they are attached to the underside of vehicles.
Interpol raised a fresh alert this week, saying thieves are now targeting CATs because they contain valuable metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.
They say that taller cars with more ground clearance, such as SUVs or vans, are prime targets because it is easier to remove the devices.
It is estimated a minimum price for the precious metal from one device is €50 on the second-hand market.
Interpol said: "The value and accessibility of catalytic converters (CATs) makes them attractive targets for theft."
A recycling company in Belgium recently lost 300 second-hand CATs worth €15,000.
The criminals often target entire fleets in a single night. Many have previously been involved in burglaries, thefts of lorries, vehicle batteries, boat engines and diesel, Interpol say.
The criminals sell the CATs to metal dealers "who ask no questions".