Hybrid vehicles top target for catalytic converter thefts

Admiral claims data shows a spike in catalytic converter thefts over the past six months with thieves targeting lucrative hybrid vehicles

Precious metals, such as palladium and platinum, found in a hybrid car’s catalytic converter are attracting thieves who sell them on to make a profit. 

The catalytic converter in hybrid vehicles contains a higher concentration of precious metals and are often less corroded because they mostly run on battery power. And these metals are worth a fortune to thieves.

According to the Guardian, palladium sold for about $180 (£138) per ounce in 2008 but today (Feb 2020) it’s trading at $2,350 (£1,803).  

At the time of writing, palladium and platinum are trading at 70 to 80% of the value of gold.

Year on year, Admiral Car Insurance data shows a fourfold increase in catalytic converter thefts, the majority of which have been from hybrid vehicles.

The most susceptible cars are:

  • Honda Jazz
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota Auris 
  • Lexus RX

And it’s not just insurance companies seeing the increase; the Metropolitan Police report a 73% rise in cat thefts with almost 3,000 reported stolen in the first half of 2019, compared with 1,674 for the whole of 2018.

Protecting your car from catalytic converter theft

A catalytic converter makes up part of the exhaust system; it processes the emissions from a combustion engine into less harmful gases.

And because the exhaust is exposed beneath most cars, they’re often easy pickings for thieves.

Police forces across the country have issued the following advice to help protect your car:

  • 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