The mystery of why some cars have been found turned on their sides across France apparently without explanation has been solved.
The phenomenon was reported in Ariège (Occitanie) most recently, but police have heard incidents of the issue from all over the country over the past few weeks, including around 15 in Oise in northern France alone.
Voitures retournées en France : le mystère s'explique... Il s'agit d'une technique répandue, employée par certains voleurs pour dérober le pot catalytique des véhicules https://t.co/VLcd5zaAnf (La Dépêche) 1/2— Pierre LEMASSON (@sirchamallow) March 30, 2022
Despite its mysterious appearance, the phenomenon has a more prosaic explanation; it is a technique used by thieves to steal the car’s catalytic converter.
These parts are fetching high prices on the black market, and contain precious metals such as palladium or rhodium, the latter of which is currently selling at prices 11 times higher than gold.
Certain smaller cars are easier to turn on their sides than others, including the Renault Twingo and Clio, and the Toyota Prius and Auris, which explains why these models have been most affected.
Jean-Pierre Reynaud, colonel gendarmerie in Loiret, said: “It’s a very well-structured and organised network, with the capacity to transport and sell [the parts].”
Without a catalytic converter – which aims to reduce the harmfulness of exhaust fumes – cars are unusable.
One mechanic told FranceInfo: “If the entire part has been stolen, it can cost €1,500 to fix.”
One recent victim, Stéphan Pivot, whose car is being repaired, said: “I live in a village, and I can’t do anything without a car - not even go to the pharmacy. I now have to ask someone [for a lift].”