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.
Currently, palladium is even more valuable than gold, and platinum is worth around two-thirds the value of gold. So it’s unsurprising that palladium seems to be of particular interest to thieves.
Admiral Car Insurance data shows a 44% increase in claims for stolen catalytic converters last year compared with 2019. And there were 57% more claims for catalytic converter thefts in March 2021 than the same month last year.
As these thefts become more common, we estimate the average cost of a claim for a stolen catalytic converter is around £1,500.
The types of car that have a catalytic converter are petrol cars manufactured since 1993 and diesel cars made after 2001. The catalytic converter was introduced to help cars meet European emissions standards.
Since 2009, diesel cars have a diesel particulate filter (DPF) which works in a similar way to a catalytic converter but also removes soot from exhaust emissions.
The cars most likely to have their catalytic converter stolen are:
And it’s not just insurance companies seeing the increase; the Metropolitan Police received nearly 15,000 reports of such thefts in 2020, compared to 9,500 over the previous year.
There’s evidence to suggest that criminal gangs are involved and take stolen catalytic converters abroad, which could explain why the thefts dropped off during the first lockdown of 2020.
Lorna Connelly, Head of Claims at Admiral, said “Our data shows that the number of catalytic converter thefts taking place is dramatically rising again after a lull at the start of the pandemic.
“If your vehicle’s catalytic converter has been stolen, it would make a significant noise when you start the car and you can’t drive the vehicle without one.
“Regardless of which car you own, you should be vigilant and do everything you can to make sure it’s parked in a safe and secure place. If you don’t have a private driveway or garage, parking somewhere well lit, and not parking half on the pavement will make it harder for thieves to access the catalytic converter.
“Some thieves are savvy and will wear hi-vis vests to throw potential witnesses off the scent and unassuming passers-by could quite easily assume official work is being carried out. If you do see someone underneath a car in your street, make a note of any useful information and report it to the police or Crimestoppers.”
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: