The car’s still there, but a very important part of it was gone in less than a minute.
Security camera footage that captured two thieves stealing the catalytic converter from a car parked on a Nottingham, England, street shows just how easy it is to pull off the lucrative crime. The crooks simply pulled up to the white compact and lifted it with a hydraulic jack while one slipped underneath and used a power drill with a screwdriver bit to remove the emissions system component, which can contain valuable metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
“As our CCTV clip shows, it can take offenders only a matter of seconds to remove a catalytic converter which is why we’re re-appealing to members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to us,” Nottinghamshire Police said.
Although this incident took place in the U.K., it’s also a common occurrence in the U.S. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there were nearly 4,000 claims filed for catalytic converter thefts in 2015 alone with each worth from $20 and $240 to the thief. Trucks and SUVs are common targets because thieves can often fit under them without even needing to use a jack.
Given the ease of catalytic converter removal, experts suggest parking a vehicle in a secure or well-lighted location as a preventative measure, and the NICB recommends conspicuously etching the car’s vehicle identification number onto the catalytic converter to make it easier to trace as a deterrent. Beyond that, there are aftermarket products available to secure a catalytic converter, some equipped with alarms. While some of them can cost as much as a replacement part, the NICB notes that the hasty removal process during a theft often causes additional damage to a vehicle.
The Nottingham thieves remain at large.