As the spate of metal thefts gathers pace across the country, van drivers and charities are finding themselves in the middle of a “battlefield” which is being overrun by organised gangs of criminals.
Soaring scrap metal prices to blame
Many social experts are putting down the spate of thefts as symptomatic of a society that is struggling with unemployment, high inflation and soaring energy bills. Others are putting it down to the soaring price of scrap metal! Whatever the reason, more and more van drivers are making claims on their commercial van insurance now because someone has stolen their catalytic converter.
Charities are sitting ducks
Unfortunately many charities are also finding themselves on the wrong end of a theft. Small vans that are used by charities to ferry the disadvantaged in society to places of education or entertainment are proving easy fodder for the callous thieves. The vans are perfect targets for the crime, first of all a small van is easier to manoeuvre under than a car and secondly the catalytic converter is bigger, making it more valuable. Charities can’t usually afford expensive security systems so the vans become “sitting ducks”, and this is a phenomenon that is being repeated across the length and breadth of the UK.
Exhaust system contains platinum
A catalytic converter contains a small amount of platinum in its interior which bolsters its scrap value and although no-one is quite sure how much they are being sold on for, the cost of a replacement for those who suffer the crime is around £400. On top of that of course is the loss of a no claims bonus on their van insurance, and the cost of finding alternative transport to fulfil engagements or contracts.
Police asking van drivers to mark their catalytic converters
For months now the police have been asking van drivers to be careful where they park their vans overnight but the level of offences has now led to some companies actually buying locks to fit on the converters. The police have now added to their advice by asking van drivers to mark their catalytic converters so they can be recognised by scrap dealers if the thieves try and weigh them in.