Catalyst thefts of cars even tripled in less than a year: “It only takes a minute or two for a slender boy” | Yle news

Car catalysts have been worthy of thieves this year. For example, dozens of cars have been hit in south-eastern Finland. The catalyst of an old, big-engine car can have precious metals worth hundreds of euros.

The car dismantling plant collects all the parts from the vehicles that can be reused somewhere, says Henri Paukkunen, plant manager. Photo: Ville Toijonen / Yle

Catalyst thefts in cars have tripled in Finland this year.

According to statistics from the Central Criminal Police, more than 2,100 catalyst thefts have already come to the attention of the police this year, compared to just under 700 criminal reports last year. The largest cities in Finland are at the top of the statistics.

A record number of car catalyst thefts have also occurred in south-eastern Finland this year. In Kouvola, for example, the catalyst was grabbed four different times in the summer in the parking area of ​​the Tykkimäki amusement park.

Catalysts are sold to repair shops and scrap shops all over Finland. Precious metals are made into recyclable concentrate, which is sold abroad mainly to Germany and the Czech Republic. From there, they end up being used again by the automotive industry.

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Most often, the catalytic converter is sawn out of cars parked with metal tools. Professionals remove the catalytic converter in the car’s exhaust system in minutes.

– It takes only a minute or two of a slender boy to get under the car and remove it, says the plant manager of Remeo’s car dismantling plant in Lappeenranta Henri Paukkunen.

The catalytic converter has precious metals depending on how old the car is and how much it needs to clean the exhaust. Photo: Ville Toijonen / Yle

Remeo dismantles end-of-life cars and collects parts for further use. According to Paukkunen, the missing catalyst in the car is noticed by the sound.

– Externally, you may not notice it if you do not look under the car. When the car starts, the sound is like a rally car. It sprouts and falls hard. There is no need to go until the inspection that you notice the lack of a catalyst, says Paukkunen.

Listen to an interview with Henri Paukkunen, Department Manager. The editor is Ville Toijonen.

Age and size affect the value

The most valuable catalysts are in older gasoline engines with a large engine. According to Henri Paukkunen, it can be said that the catalyst contains 2.5 grams of precious metals for every kilogram.

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– In other words, the bigger the engine, the more cleaning the car needs and the bigger the catalytic converter, Paukkunen sums up.

The catalytic converter is part of the car’s exhaust system. Its job is to clean the exhaust fumes. Photo: Ville Toijonen / Yle

Catalysts contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. The most familiar of these is certainly platinum, which costs about 27 euros per gram. Rhodium, on the other hand, costs about 400 euros per gram. Correspondingly, for example, the gram price of gold is about 48 euros.

– On average, 150 euros are paid for a catalyst. Then there are masterpieces of German engineering work, for which you can get even 500 euros, says plant manager Henri Paukkunen from Lappeenranta’s Remeo car dismantling plant.

According to Paukkunen, thieves are not interested in newer hybrid cars because they have a better catalytic converter and the new engine is better optimized, ie less precious metals are used in the catalytic converters.

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In some cases, you can try to protect your own catalyst from theft, but the means are quite limited. It goes without saying that the car should be stored at night in the garage if possible.

– Some catalytic converters are embedded a little deeper in the bottom of the car. In some cases, it could be protected by a disk. You should always leave the car in a visible and bright place in the parking lot. It may slightly reduce the interest of thieves, Paukkunen thinks.

Scrap dealers are careful with thieves

Remeo’s Lappeenranta landfill has not been offered individual catalysts that could be suspected of being stolen. The dismantling workshop also asks for the exact history of the cars and parts brought for dismantling.

– We ask which part of the car it is, whose car it is and so on. We get more catalysts from our partners, ie various car repair shops that we know are reliable, says Paukkunen.

Finnish Association of Scrap Dealers (you switch to another service) there is also a theft notification form on its website. For example, if a car is stolen, you can fill out a form on the website and send it to all members of the junk dealers.

– This is how we immediately see from the plane that such a thing has been stolen and if it is traded to us, then not when we tip the police and the robbers into the pipe, Paukkunen says.