Converters are catalyst to crime warns Norwich Union

Article date: 6 October 2008

Motor traders face a greater risk as ruthless thieves cash in on valuable metals, says Norwich Union, part of Aviva.

The warning comes as claims involving stolen catalytic converters have increased by 500% in the last year*, with one dealership reporting 40 converters stolen on one occasion alone.

And the problem could worsen, according to Barry Hogg, underwriting manager for Norwich Union's motor trade unit.

"Due to the high value of metals such as Palladium, Rodium and Platinum, which are all contained in catalytic converters, and significant rises in new and scrap metal prices, the attraction of such thefts in particular is greatly increasing.

"Catalytic converters have been a standard fit on all new petrol-driven vehicles since the early 1990s and have now become a prime target for thieves. Disposal is easily achieved as organised gangs access overseas markets. 

"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 body-work.

"Insurers are concerned by the damage this is causing and, in some cases, numerous vehicles are being targeted at a time. 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.

"Those dealerships selling vehicles with high-ground clearances, such as 4x4s or trucks, are far more susceptible to these types of thefts."

Hogg lists a number of security measures that dealers should consider to deter thieves and to avoid having to make a claim.

"Creating some sort of a perimeter by using basic markings may act as a psychological barrier. This may comprise natural or artificial landscaping. However, to hinder entry where needed, putting up metal fencing is likely to be more beneficial.

"It is advisable to keep all stock within the perimeter of the dealership, where it can be seen by staff and avoid using overflow car parks or areas that have no form of security at all.

"Ensuring forecourts are illuminated during nightfall will discourage unwanted visitors. We suggest installing timer switches or dusk sensors to turn lights on and off at appropriate times, either all round the premises, or in secluded areas.

"Plants and shrubbery should not be left to grow so that they block any view of the premises. Consider removing hoardings or large promotional material that may conceal thieves.

"Whilst site cameras may provide a basic deterrent, to be effective, such systems need to be viewed and responded to, either by permanent site personnel or a remote video receiving centre.

"Displaying notices or window stickers to advertise that security measures are in place is also a good idea."


For further information, please contact:
Sam Bramwell at Staniforth on 0161 919 8024/077381 96667 or Erik Nelson/Adam Cracknell at Norwich Union on 01603 682 264/ 07989 427 086.

Notes to editors:

*Norwich Union Claims Data 2008.

This press release should not be relied upon as Legal advice.

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva.  Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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