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Dismantling of a network suspected of stealing 50,000 catalytic converters


Highlights: More than 50,000 catalytic converters have been stolen from the U.S. by a group of thieves. The theft is part of a larger scheme to steal more than 1.5 million pounds of rare metal from the United States. The stolen metal is used in a variety of ways, including to make batteries and to make parts for cars. The thieves have been arrested and are being held in custody, but no charges have yet been brought against them for the theft of the catalytic converter.

Rich in rhodium, a metal six times more expensive than gold, and other rare metals, catalytic converters stir up the greed of more and more thieves who resell them abroad.

A vast operation that mobilized more than 170 gendarmes has dismantled a gang of criminals suspected of having stolen more than 50,000 catalytic converters in several regions of France to export them mainly to Poland, announced this Friday, June 9, the prosecutor's office of Nimes.

Rich in rhodium, a metal six times more expensive than gold, and other rare metals, catalytic converters stir up the greed of more and more thieves who resell them abroad.

See alsoUsed vehicles, targets of foreign networks and organized gang scams

'Several hundred thousand euros'

The gendarmerie operation on Monday allowed the arrest of 15 people and the seizure of 143,500 euros, 1250 catalytic converters, 12 vehicles, pot cutting equipment, weapons and narcotics, detailed in a statement the prosecutor of the Republic of Nimes, Cécile Gensac. The prosecutor did not specify where the arrests took place but said that a "clandestine gambling room" had also been discovered. "The loot was estimated at 1500 pots per week, a total of more than 50,000 catalytic pots and several hundred thousand euros" since the gendarmes of Mende (Lozère) identified in October this "team of thieves radiating on several departments," she explained.


The pots stolen from the national territory were centralized every week in the Somme, then loaded into a semi-trailer bound for abroad, on behalf of a Polish company for the treatment and recovery of hazardous waste using inaccurate documents, "added Cécile Gensac. At the end of their police custody, 14 of those arrested were charged with "theft and concealment in an organized gang" and "management and export of hazardous waste in an organized gang". Nine were remanded in custody and five under judicial control, according to the prosecutor.

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Mandatory since the 90s, the catalytic converter is a part of the exhaust system that serves to reduce polluting emissions from cars. In highly speculative metals markets, the very volatile price of rhodium has exploded as a result of the post-Covid recovery of the automotive industry. Three years ago the gram of rhodium, of which only twenty tons are produced each year, for more than 80% in South Africa, was bought about 160 euros. On January 1st, it was necessary to pay more than twice as much, 335 euros. The curve of catalytic converter flights, which can contain up to 1.5 grams of rhodium, followed the same trajectory.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-06-09

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