Thefts of catalytic converters have soared in the second half of 2020, according to one of the UK’s biggest car insurers.
Admiral insurance has reported a “dramatic” rise in the number of owners claiming for thefts of the high-value parts following the easing of lockdown restrictions in July. Its data follows a BBC investigation which found a 600 per cent increase in incidents.
According to its head of claims, Lorna Connelly, the firm had already seen a rise in cases before lockdown. She commented: “At the beginning of 2020 we saw an increase in the number of catalytic converter thefts in the UK, with 400 claims in January alone. However, with more people staying at home due to lockdown restrictions, we saw the number of thefts drop, with just 52 claims in April. Unfortunately, these types of thefts are dramatically rising in number again, as restrictions in some parts of the country have eased, and it’s clear they are fast approaching pre-lockdown rates.”
The Admiral data also revealed the cars most likely to be targeted by thieves trying to steal the valuable exhaust components, with hybrid models particularly vulnerable.
The Toyota Prius hybrid is among the models most targeted by thieves, according to Admiral (Photo: Toyota)
The Honda Jazz, Toyota Prius, Toyota Auris and Lexus RX were the most likely targets, according to Admiral’s figures. Hybrids such as these are particular favourites for thieves as their converters don’t work as hard as in other vehicles and so the precious metals contained in them are less corroded.
Criminals are increasingly targeting catalytic converters as the anti-pollution devices are relatively easy to access on the underside of a car and contain a variety of precious metals - including palladium, platinum, and rhodium - which can be stripped out and sold on.
Lorna Connelly explained: “Currently, palladium is even more valuable than gold, rhodium is worth almost two thirds of the value of gold, and platinum is around half the value of gold.
“Year on year we’ve seen an increase in this type of theft so despite the drop in the number of stolen catalytic converters earlier in the year, it looks like thefts are now rising again at a worrying rate. Regardless of which car you own, you should do everything you can to make sure it’s parked in a safe and secure place, especially at night, to reduce the risk of your car being affected.”
Replacing a stolen catalytic converter can cost more than £1,000, with the AA reporting that claims can reach as much as £3,000 depending on the damage caused when the part was removed.
To help protect your car from catalytic converter thieves, police forces across the country have issued the following advice:
Park in a locked garage or in a well-lit, densely populated areaPark close to fences, walls or kerbs with the exhaust being closest to the barrier; this will make the theft more difficultAvoid mounting your car on the kerb to park as it gives thieves easy accessIf your catalytic converter’s bolted on ask your local garage to weld the bolts to make it more difficult to removeConsider a ‘cage clamp’ which locks around the converter or have the unit etched with a unique ID numberSpeak to your car dealership about a tilt sensor that activates the alarm if someone tries to jack up your vehicleIf you see someone acting suspiciously under a vehicle, report it to the police