By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: There has been a rise in the theft of vehicle catalytic converters recently, allegedly by workers at some auto repair shops as well as from parked cars. The catalytic converter is an important part that controls emissions produced from the vehicle to protect the environment and curb pollution. The part is expensive, ranging from KD 250 for a Mitsubishi Pajero up to KD 490 for the Nissan Z and even higher for more expensive vehicles.

One of the main reasons catalytic converters are stolen is because they contain expensive metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium. They are also sold to used spare part dealers in the scrap area or to garages. A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that converts toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants by catalyzing a redox reaction.

In February this year, the Environment Public Authority signed a memorandum with interior ministry that added a new condition to the technical inspection of vehicles – that car emissions should conform with special standards while renewing car licenses. But according to a car inspection center, this law has not yet come into force.

A mechanic in Shuwaikh said police have conducted several raids at garages in Shuwaikh industrial Area and confiscated catalytic converters found at these garages. “The police warned garage workers that it’s not allowed to remove this part from the vehicles. I guess this came after customers complained catalytic converters were stolen from their vehicles, especially after it was announced that emissions tests will be done during the technical checking, for which this part is essential,” he told Kuwait Times.

“Some drivers used to remove the catalytic converters from their vehicle based on the advice of the garage, as the vehicle apparently runs faster without it. The garage even used to pay the customer around KD 50 for the converter. But after the police raids, most garages won’t remove it even if the customer pays for it,” he added.

A salesman at an auto dealership confirmed more people are now asking for catalytic converters. “I’ve heard many people in Salmiya, Maidan Hawally, Hawally and Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh were victims of theft of this part from their vehicles. The driver will realize the catalytic converter is missing when they start hearing loud noises from the exhaust,” the salesman told Kuwait Times. Another mechanic at a garage in Shuwaikh said he knows a customer whose converter was stolen by a tow truck driver while transporting the car to the garage.