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Beware! Thieves are stealing catalytic converters from cars in Cape Town

7 July 2021 8:34 AM
Tags:
catalytic converters

Refilwe Moloto talks to the owner of Noise Boys Melia Tappan about why these converters have value.
  • Catalytic converters (CATS) are like the software for your car engine and removing it can cause major damage to vehicles, says expert
  • CATS have become the target of thieves due to their high metal value of platinum, rhodium, and palladium
  • The converters can cost between R4,000 and R20,000 each depending on car models and some vehicles use more than one

We've heard of car radios being stolen, of remote jamming of car door locks, wheels being stolen, but have you heard of exhausts and catalytic converters (CATS) being stolen?

Refilwe says there are reports of vehicle owners who have parked their cars at popular shopping centres, only to return and find their exhausts being very loud, and on inspecting under the vehicle, finding that thieves have cleanly severed through a section of their exhaust system, targeting the catalytic converter.

Catalytic converters (CATS) have a value because the inner structure is coated with a range of different metals, of which platinum, palladium, and rhodium are the most valuable.

What do CATS do? They act as catalysts in neutralising and removing the harmful components of exhaust gases.

They sit under a vehicle in a box connected to the exhaust pipe and are not hard to steal. Thieves get under the car and use high-powered cutting tools or simple bolt cutters to detach the box from the pipes around it.

When did Tappan notice an increase in the prevalence of converters being stolen asks Refilwe?

We have been looking at it since January February month that it is more prominent in the Western Cape area.

Melia Tappan, Owner - Noise Boys

Most of my clients come in because they have noticed especially on Facebook Marketplace that catalytic converters are for sale

Melia Tappan, Owner - Noise Boys

She says it is possible thieves think this will bring in easy and quick money but adds that this is not always the case

But I have had about five to ten clients come in where their motors have been damaged due to theft of catalytic converters

Melia Tappan, Owner - Noise Boys

How are these stolen converters sold on asks Refilwe?

There is definitely a darker market out there. But there are a lot of people on Facebook Marketplace that will advertise that they sell catalytic converters. Whom they sell to is a completely different story.

Melia Tappan, Owner - Noise Boys

If you don't know the people that you sell to, they can just take your catalytic converter for a price that you are not aware of.

Melia Tappan, Owner - Noise Boys

Especially with the platinum prices, and rhodium prices going up, people are not aware of the actual value of a catalytic converter.

Melia Tappan, Owner - Noise Boys

Driving without a catalytic converter can cause much damage to a vehicle she says.

It's bad. The catalytic converter does the diagnostics, the software to your engine...if it gets taken out of your vehicle it can cause a lot of damage like oil leaks and more. To have it replaced is not easy. You have to have the car towed in.

Melia Tappan, Owner - Noise Boys

They sell for between R4,000 and R20,000 per unit.

Some model cars have more than one catalytic converter so that amount can triple, she notes.

Does the entire exhaust system need to be replaced?

Tappan says not neccesaruly. They use catfoolers to replace a small area where the catalytic converter was removed.

But the moment they start sawing off pipes it weakens the whole system and eventually needs to replace the whole exhaust system.

Melia Tappan, Owner - Noise Boys

Is this covered by your insurance?

Tappan says it is a pretty new phenomenon and technically catalytic converters are not required by law but insurance is likely to cover theft.

She suggests placing asking the alarm company to place a sensor near the catalytic converter, or she says they can mark the converter so that it can be traced if stolen.




7 July 2021 8:34 AM
Tags:
catalytic converters

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