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Criminals targeted the previous metal parts at the start of the year but offences dropped as the UK went into lockdown. Crimes dropped from just 52 in April from over 400 at the start of the year in January as cars were left at home and parked in garages.
However, the number of offences is said to be “dramatically rising” with the issue approaching pre-lockdown rates.
Financial insecurity and a lack of attacks over the summer could leave many criminals playing catch-up and doubling their efforts over the winter.
Lorna Connelly, Head of Claims at Admiral, said some of the metals found in the vital parts are “worth a fortune” with some elements worth even more than gold.
She said: “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.”
Ms Connelly revealed that certain cars were higher targets for thefts as these contained a higher amount of the metals targeted by thieves.
Hybrid models were a higher target as the catalytic converters were less corroded than their petrol or diesel counterparts.
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This is because hybrid models have to deal with fewer emissions than other vehicles meaning the converters were in overall better condition.
She said: “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.”
This was backed by Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker who revealed in September that plug-in cars were a “highly desirable target” due to less corrosion.
Experts at Admiral and the police have urged drivers to take a range of simple precautions to protect their cars from catalytic converter thieves.
They urge drivers to park their cars in a locked garage or near a densely populated area.
Parking close to fences, walls or kerbs and avoid mounting a car on the kerb will make the theft more difficult and is likely to deter some criminals.
Drivers have also been urged to consider a ‘cage clamp’ which locks around the converter to stop them from being stolen.
A tilt sensor can also help as this will activate your car alarm if someone attempts to jack their vehicle.
Many road users may be unaware that their converter has been stolen until they get their car inspected in a garage.
Unsuspecting road users could then be hit hard as their car will fail their MOT for being in a dangerous condition.
Road users who travel without a catalytic converter could also face fines and penalty points from police officers.
Ms Connelly added: “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.”
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