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INSURANCE company Admiral has reported huge increase in catalytic converter thefts with Honda Jazz, Toyota Prius, Toyota Auris and Lexus RX the models most targeted.

Precious metals found in catalytic converters in vehicles are worth a fortune to thieves – some even more than gold.

Lorna Connelly, Head of Claims at Admiral, said: “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 increase since June has been significant, and shows thieves are back to stealing the precious metals found in catalytic converters in some cars, which are then being sold on for a profit.

“Palladium, platinum, and rhodium found in the converters are worth a fortune to thieves. 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.

“A catalytic converter makes up part of the exhaust system; it processes the emissions from a combustion engine into less harmful gases. As the exhaust is exposed beneath most cars, they’re often easy picking for thieves, but there are things car owners can do to deter criminals.

“Hybrid cars are targeted the most because their catalytic converters contain a higher concentration of precious metals and are generally less corroded. Our data shows the most susceptible cars to catalytic converter theft are the Honda Jazz, Toyota Prius, Toyota Auris and Lexus RX.

“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.”

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 area
  • Park close to fences, walls or kerbs with the exhaust being closest to the barrier; this will make the theft more difficult
  • Avoid mounting your car on the kerb to park as it gives thieves easy access
  • If your catalytic converter’s bolted on ask your local garage to weld the bolts to make it more difficult to remove
  • Consider a ‘cage clamp’ which locks around the converter
  • Speak to your car dealership about a tilt sensor that activates the alarm if someone tries to jack up your vehicle
  • If you see someone acting suspiciously under a vehicle, report it to the police