In Geesthacht, Schleswig-Holstein, the perpetrators struck on St. Nicholas Day: on December 6, around 1:20 a.m., witnesses heard suspicious noises from a parking lot and alerted the police. Two dark-clad men were there catalyst to flex off a jacked up Honda Jazz. When they saw the officers, the strangers fled. They left their car behind, in which there was an already stolen Kat.
And such a cat-theft is by no means an isolated case: almost every day police headquarters report nationwide of thefts of this type. Experts cite the high raw material prices for platinum, palladium and rhodium as the reason for the increase. These metals are at the heart of the “exhaust gas cleaner”, announced the North Rhine-Westphalian LKA. They encased the catalytic converter core and thus enable the reduction of pollutant emissions. According to the ADAC, each vehicle can contain between three and five grams of palladium, platinum and rhodium. The exact amount depends on the age of the car and the technology used.
ADAC involvement doubled
The theft of catalytic converters from motor vehicles is not recorded separately in the police crime statistics, as a spokeswoman for the State Criminal Police Office in North Rhine-Westphalia said. The theft of catalytic converters is also not reported to the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) in Flensburg, as a spokesman said.
Nevertheless, an increase can be seen. The ADAC, for example, has noticed a significant increase over the past few years. The helpers of the ADAC road watch this year (as of December 7th) were called to 903 cat thefts. That was more than twice as many as in 2020, when the ADAC was called to 420 thefts of this kind. In previous years there were even fewer (2019: 169, 2018: 77, 2017: 38).
“The trend is currently increasing”
The fact that the number of stolen catalytic converters is likely to be many times higher can be seen from a criminal strategy analysis carried out by the LKA North Rhine-Westphalia in June 2021, according to which the number of cases has risen sharply in the most populous federal state since 2019. “This trend is currently increasing,” said the LKA spokeswoman.
According to the evaluation, the number of cases in 2019 was still in the double-digit range, in 2020 it was already a low four-digit value nationwide. For 2021 there will be a further increase, it is said. In Lower Saxony, too, according to the local LKA, catalytic converters have already been removed from cars more than 1000 times this year. The number of cases has risen significantly in the past two years.
The Federal Criminal Police Office writes in its federal situation report Kfz-Kriminalitt 2020 that the theft of high-quality motor vehicle components is “still a lucrative field of activity for internationally operating groups. (…) One modus operandi that was increasingly found in Germany in 2020 was targeted theft of catalytic converters, mostly in older vehicles, mainly in public traffic areas. “
GDV has no numbers
The General Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV) has no figures on catalyst theft. “We record that under” partial stealings “, including navigation systems, radios, airbags, entertainment systems, steering wheels, on-board computers and so on,” said a spokesman. In 2020 there were around 50,000 cases of such theft, for which the motor insurers paid a total of 91 million euros.
According to the LKA North Rhine-Westphalia, the perpetrators prefer motor vehicles with gasoline engines, because in diesel engines almost exclusively platinum is used to coat the catalyst core. This precious metal currently has a lower value than the precious metals rhodium and palladium. On December 21st, palladium was traded at around 52 euros, platinum at around 27 euros and rhodium even at just under 400 euros. In the summer, prices were even higher at times.
The ADAC announced that older vehicle models in which the catalytic converter is easily accessible in the middle of the vehicle floor are in great demand. Apparently, the requirements for older Opel Astra, Toyota Prius and VW Polo are particularly favorable. In younger vehicles, on the other hand, the catalytic converter is installed closer to the engine and is therefore much more difficult to reach. In addition, newer models of catalysts contain fewer precious metals.
Jack up and cut
The perpetrators jack up the vehicles for the hoof, cut the exhaust pipe in front of and behind the catalytic converter, according to the experience of the ADAC: “The whole thing takes no more than a few minutes.” Depending on the location of the vehicle, the thieves used different tools: Flex or electric saw on noisy streets, exhaust or chain pipe cutters in quiet residential areas.
Theft of permanently installed parts or parts that are permanently connected to the car are insured according to the information provided by the GDV via partial comprehensive insurance. After a theft, insured persons should contact their insurer immediately and report the theft.
And you will notice the theft. Even if the missing Kat is not seen straight away – the loss is definitely heard. Because a very loud engine noise is the result of the theft. According to the ADAC, this is also the reason why the car will then no longer be allowed to drive on the road. In addition, the exhaust gas cleaning – the task of the cat – no longer works, the road approval expires. (dpa / gem)
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