Cat thefts up

Time 10:01 am, October 10, 2008

33440tra.jpgEXPENSIVE catalytic converter thefts are on the increase, warns insurer Norwich Union.

They have increased by 500 per cent during the last year alone. One unlucky dealership said 40 converters were stolen on one occasion alone.

And, as knowledge of how valuable the precious metals they contain are, such thefts are set to increase further.

Barry Hogg, underwriting manager for Norwich Union’s motor trade unit, said: ‘Due to the significant rises in new and scrap metal prices, the attraction of such thefts in particular is greatly increasing.

‘Dealerships are easy targets for thieves who know what they are doing. We’ve heard of instances where whole exhaust systems have been stripped from vehicles, causing extensive damage to the under chassis and bodywork.

The damage that can be caused is extensive. ‘Although the average pay-out for a claim is around £2000, we’ve seen instances where the damage caused to a vehicle following the theft of a catalytic converter is far worse and the cost of repair is much higher.

Who’s particularly susceptible? ‘Those dealerships selling vehicles with high-ground clearances, such as 4x4s or trucks.’

Hogg does, however, list some measures that can be taken to deter such thefts. They include:

• Create some sort of a perimeter to act as a ‘psychological barrier’. This can be natural or artificial landscaping – but, to hinder entry where needed, metal fencing is better.

• Keep all stock within the perimeter of the dealership, where it can be seen by staff. Avoid using overflow car parks or areas that lack security.

• Ensure forecourts are illuminated during nightfall. Timer switches or dusk sensors can be useful.

• Don’t let plants and shrubbery grow so that they block the premises. Consider removing hoardings or large promotional material that may conceal thieves.

• Install site cameras – and ensure they’re viewed and responded to, either by permanent site personnel or a remote video receiving centre.

• Display notices or window stickers to advertise that security measures are in place.

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