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huge spike Gardaí on alert as thefts of catalytic converters ‘spiralling out of control across the country’


Catalytic converters contain valuable metals and can cost more than €1,500 to replace if stolen

Catalytic converters contain valuable metals and can cost more than €1,500 to replace if stolen

Catalytic converters contain valuable metals and can cost more than €1,500 to replace if stolen

A major Garda alert has been issued about a “surge” in the theft of catalytic converters in Ireland this year.

Around 1,400 cases have been recorded across the country, with more than half of these in Dublin.

However, senior sources are concerned that this figure may be “just the tip of the iceberg” as it is believed many victims of this type of crime do not report it to gardaí as they may not be aware their vehicle has been targeted.

Detectives have identified a number of gangs across the country who are suspected of being responsible for the huge spike in this crime.

The catalytic converter – ‘cat’ for short – is a section of a vehicle’s exhaust where gases from the engine are passed over and through a metal that breaks down pollutants.

They have become rich pickings for criminals because, as gardaí warn, they “cannot be uniquely traced to one vehicle”.

It can cost up to €2,500 to replace a catalytic converter and a vehicle is highly unlikely to pass an NCT without one.

They contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium, which can be extracted by metal refiners.

Gardaí warn that the price of these precious metals has been increasing worldwide, with rhodium worth nearly 10 times the price of gold. Criminals can get between €100 to €300 for each catalytic converter they steal.

In the last two years, gardaí has noticed an increasing trend in hybrid vehicles, such as various Toyota and Honda models, being targeted.

It is understood that the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) is the primary agency involved in investigating this type of crime. Sources say the increase in the theft of catalytic converters is “spiralling out of control”.

Criminals can remove the catalytic converter from the vehicle in just two minutes. Sources say it is “virtually impossible” to detect the criminal unless they are caught in the act.

In October, there was an increase in cases in north Dublin. A number of cases involved vehicles that were parked close to Portmarnock beach. Earlier in the year, thieves even targeted the vehicles of nurses whose cars were parked at a Dublin hospital.

Last month, it emerged that gardaí in Cork city were investigating two incidents involving the theft of the devices.

“Avoid parking your car half on the pavement and half on the roadway as this makes it easier for thieves to access the catalytic converter,” Sergeant Brian McSweeney, the Crime Prevention Officer for Cork city, advised at the time.

Specialist gardaí have already identified a number of family criminal networks who are suspected of being behind the crime surge.

This includes a notorious group based in Athy, Co Kildare. They are suspected of being the main criminals involved in this type of crime in Kildare, Carlow, Laois and Kilkenny.

An organised shoplifting gang, based in north Dublin, are also suspects for this type of crime.
Another organised gang on the Garda’s radar is based in Co Galway.

They are also suspected of handling and dealing in stolen caravans.

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Online Editors