A little treasure under every car: there are metals in the catalytic converter, more valuable than gold.
This is what crooks have found out too - and simply flex the precious pieces with unimagined audacity.
Parking lots at train stations are particularly often used as crime scenes.
Car dealers are also affected.
FROM TOBIAS HARD
- A car shouldn't hum.
But that's exactly what it did when Sadettin Yalcin started one of his cars in mid-November.
The used car dealer from Fürstenfeldbruck looked under the car - and could hardly believe his eyes.
There was a yawning emptiness where the catalyst normally hangs.
The exhaust gas cleaning device was simply removed.
Yalcin had a premonition.
And that should be confirmed.
The catalytic converters were also missing on nine other vehicles in his place.
“We have never had anything like this before,” says the car dealer.
He and his son estimate the damage to be several thousand euros.
Numerous commuters who had parked their cars at S-Bahn stations have experienced a similar nasty surprise in recent weeks.
Schöngeising, Grafrath, Türkenfeld, Geltendorf: The perpetrators apparently worked their way west along the S 4.
There were also reports from Maisach and the Landsberg district.
The crooks are extremely brazen.
They lie down under the cars in broad daylight and calmly flex their prey out of the exhaust system.
Oliver Erhardt, spokesman for the Bruck police, suspects organized gangs behind the acts.
These are active throughout Germany.
According to Erhardt, the perpetrators are apparently targeting older vehicle models.
To get under the cars, the perpetrators would likely use car jacks.
The other parked cars served as privacy screens.
But why are the gangs targeting catalysts of all things?
There are valuable metals in the devices - especially platinum, palladium and rhodium.
These have massively increased in value in recent years.
Rhodium, for example, used to cost around 50 euros per gram - now it's 400.
Oliver Krestin, managing director of the Aschaffenburg company Hensel Recycling, knows the trick all too well.
His company has specialized, among other things, in recovering the precious metals from the catalysts.
Krestin knows: the gangs cannot directly access the valuable content.
"In order to get to the metals, you need complex melting processes, followed by chemical decomposition." Only specialized companies could do that.
The criminals would resell their captured catalysts in whole.
There is a "lively trade" on the Internet - for example on Ebay.
“So many regulations are officially being violated here, but there is probably little interest in preventing it,” says Krestin.
Catalysts are classified as hazardous waste.
The recycling expert calls on the authorities to better control the so-called material flows.
Because trading in catalytic converters is so lucrative, the safety precautions are also being tightened at many recycling companies, reports the managing director.
"High values attract criminals."