It is a little-known fact but strapped beneath your car, wrapped within an unassuming flat-can of steel, are some very rare metals.
And those metals are becoming more and more valuable if the catalytic converter replacement prices - up to $5000 on a new Subaru Outback for instance - are any indication.
Some entrepreneurial Canberra criminals decided to cash in and clearly found a merchant willing to receive the proceeds of crime, after the ACT this year was hit with an underbody automotive crime wave.
Stealing vehicle catalytic converters has been an all-but-unrecorded crime in the ACT over the past five years but in the past five months, it has suddenly leapt into prominence.
To the end of May this year, 95 catalytic converters were stolen. In the previous five years, there were just two thefts recorded.
Three people have been arrested and charged, and police investigations are continuing.
"The attraction for opportunistic thieves is that catalytic converters contain precious metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium, and the prices of these metals have gone up considerably in recent years," police said.
"Even the small amounts of these metals in the converters can prove valuable when sold to scrap metal businesses.
"And for vehicles parked in open locations, it is difficult to secure a catalytic converter."
Police are keeping a lid on the thieves' methodology to avoid any copycat thefts but one thing is for certain: it wouldn't be the most comfortable nor the easiest extraction process.
Removing a catalytic converter would require squeezing completely underneath the car, flat on your back, nose inches from the underbody and then physically contorting your arms and body to cut the pipe and then drag the heavy item out intact.
This time-consuming task has to be achieved amid a plethora of sparks and noise which would hardly fail to attract unwanted attention, especially at night.
However, nearly 100 were stolen before a priority police targeting team managed to nip the practice in the pipe, so to speak.
Cat converters have been fitted to petrol cars since the switch to unleaded fuel in 1986. They use a honeycomb structure with rare metal coatings to change the chemical nature of exhaust emissions, reducing nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. They have to reach a high operating temperature to operate effectively.
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