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Dublin: 0°C Monday 17 January 2022

Gardaí pursue catalytic converter thieves who are targeting hybrid cars

The criminals are targeting older models of Toyota Prius cars.

Image: Shutterstock/Ulianenko Dmitrii

A GANG IS suspected of carrying out up to 30 incidents of catalytic converter theft from cars in the Dublin region in the last two months, TheJournal.ie has learned. 

The cars’ converters contain the precious metals rhodium and palladium and are sold to operators of scrap yards around the capital and Leinster region. 

The criminals are particularly targeting older models of Toyota Prius cars. 

The thieves are targeting the older models of these vehicles as more of the metals were used in production than are currently used in the brand new cars. 

The wave of criminal activity has caught the attention of gardaí who believe an organised crime gang is behind the enterprise.

This gang has links to a number of burglary rings which are operational in the Greater Dublin Region. It’s understood the gang comprises members of the Traveller community.

Sources have told this publication that the men behind the thefts can have the converter removed from a car within minutes. The items are then brought to a scrapyard, where they are bought before being sold on to motorists at an inflated price.

If not sold on, the converters can be stripped down and sold for their scrap metal cost.

An ounce of palladium currently trades at just under €2,000 per ounce while rhodium is trading at just over €8,200 per ounce at the time of writing.  On average, there is about 2g of palladium in many of the catalytic converters in use today. This can reach as high as 7g in some models.

Conor Faughnan, spokesman for the AA, said that this sort of crime appears to happen in “flurries”. He warned motorists to be vigilant. 

He said: “This is a nasty little crime. Catalytic converters can cost €1,000 or more to replace. They contain precious metals like palladium and are of significant value so there is a market for them. 

“It tends in Ireland to come in flurries. It’s over to the gardaí to decide why that might be. There were reports of a flurry in August last year. That might be happening again. It would make you think there are organised gangs targeting the converters. They are relatively easy to remove and they are essentially untraceable.

“What I would advise is that motorists [pay attention] to car security – park in a secure place, under observation or in sight of CCTV if you can. Unfortunately, these are opportunistic thieves.

“Gardaí have to catch these criminals because what they’re doing, it may not seem like much but it’s a nasty little enterprise. If it’s happening again it’s a concern.”        

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