Motorists warned as gangs steal catalytic converters
CAR dealers are warning motorists, fleet warehouses and forecourt owners to be on the lookout for organised gangs who are stealing catalytic converters for their valuable component metals.
The converters are part of the vehicle's exhaust system, which converts pollutant gases into less harmful emissions.
But because they are constructed of precious metals including platinum and gold, they have become the target of criminal gangs, who are stealing them while parked overnight or in isolated locations and selling them to unscrupulous scrap metal dealers for cash.
The larger the vehicle, the larger the converter, hence trucks, delivery and work vans, SUVs and larger cars are the prime targets of the gangs, who can net up to €250 for a converter's components.
Larger vehicles like vans and SUVS are also prime targets because they are easier to get underneath than cars.
The converters, which cost approximately €1,000 to replace, are usually bolted on to the bottom of a vehicle's exhaust system and can be easily removed within about 15 minutes, according to Mary O'Donoghue, director of BOD Support Services in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, a franchise that services Iveco trucks.
"Within the space of one night we had five taken," she said.
A car dealer in Co Wexford, who did not want to disclose his company name for security reasons, said his dealership has been hit three times in the past year, with five or six converters stolen each time.
On one occasion, the thieves were at his forecourt for five hours and hid when the security man did his patrols.
They had gained entry to the property by simply cutting through the railings. He is now looking at installing a €10,000 laser beam security system.
And it's not just commercial dealers who are being targeted.
"They're taking it off cars and vans in cinemas and shopping centres," he added.
Ms O'Donoghue said the only way to stop the thefts was for people to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the gardai.