As the price of precious metals (and metal in general) continues to rise, there’s been another recent surge in catalytic converter thefts in the UK. According to car insurance company Admiral, it equates to a rise of 44% in claims for catalytic converter theft/damage to vehicles they insure.
Admiral report that the average cost of each claim averages around £1,500, meaning that older vehicles are often “written off” as a result. And, in case you’re not aware, the reason this type of crime is now more commonplace is that catalytic converters contain several types of very precious metals including rhodium, platinum and palladium.
Common vehicles targeted
Although any car with a catalytic converter is a potential target, the most common thefts are now occuring with petrol/hybrid vehicles; the reason being that they tend to use the ‘cat’ less and therefore the precious metals contained are less-corroded, making them more valuable.
The most at-risk vehicles are ones such as the Toyota Prius, Toyota Auris, Honda Jazz and the Honda CR-V. However, if you have an older model then it most likely won’t have a catalytic converter lock or any other type of anti-theft mechanism on it, making it more susceptible to being stolen. This is usually done by the thieves simply crawling underneath it and using a power tool to cut each side of the ‘cat’ to remove it.
Tips to protect your catalytic converter from being stolen
According to West Yorkshire Police, there are several ways to minimise the chance of your catalytic converter being stolen. These include:
- Parking your vehicle in your garage and keeping it locked. If you don’t have a garage, park your car in a well-lit and well-populated area such as under a street lamp or outside a row of houses.
- Leaving the vehicle close to a wall or fence, preferably with the exhaust being closest to it. Alternatively, park it in the direction where the exhaust is nearest to the kerb. This means it will be harder to crawl under without being jacked up.
- Avoid parking on the kerb as the ground clearance will be highest, making it easier to get underneath to cut off the catalytic converter
- If you’re parked with other cars nearby, e.g. a fleet car park, park the vehicles with the highest ground clearance in the middle so they’re less accessible
- If you’re fortunate to have a driveway, buy yourself a Secured by Design (SBD) driveway alarm with a sensor to alert you of a would-be intruder. But make sure you don’t rugby tackle your postman! 🙂
- If the ‘cat’ is bolted on, get the bolts welded for additional protection (a determined thief can still cut it off though).
- Catalytic converters can be ‘marked’. Again, check out the Secured by Design (SBD) approved ones.
- You can even purchase a clamp, often called a “cat-lock”. This is a cage that encloses the catalytic converter, with strong cables that affix to another part of the underside of the car. Notably, Toyota are now offering these for some of their vehicles so contact your local dealer to find out about this.
- Thatcham are a pretty good vehicle security firm that offers a range of auto security devices. These include car alarms that go off when the vehicle is disturbed or tilted. Of course, this will only work if the vehicle is jacked up or the vibration of the power tool sets it off though.
We hope you’ve found this post useful so remember to as vigilant as you can and take some (or all) of the precautions above.