Drivers and businesses continue to be targeted catalytic converter thefts with significant increases during the last two weeks of January.
Catalytic converters, which are fitted to vehicle exhaust systems, are targeted by thieves because of the precious metals they contain.
Last week the price of rhodium jumped above $10,000 per ounce, about six times the price of gold.
An epidemic of catalytic converter theft, largely from hybrid petrol/electric cars, is now becoming a major insurance headache for their owners.
In many of the cases the offender(s) have pulled up next to the vehicle they want to steal from, removing the converter in a matter of minutes, before driving off again. Sometimes in daylight.
Drivers can minimise the chance of becoming a victim by following this advice:
• Lock cars in a garage when parked at night.
• When using a garage is not possible, park close to fences, walls or a kerb with the exhaust being closest to the fence, wall or kerb to make theft difficult.
• Consider fitting CCTV on your home or driveway, to help deter thieves.
• Use PIR or LED security lighting to make your vehicle more visible and this can also act as a deterrent.
• If the catalytic converter is bolted on, consider having the bolts welded to make removal difficult.
• Fit protective coverings on catalytic converters, such as the Toyota manufactured CATLOC device, (these are made for Toyota Prius made between 2004 and 2009) as these can make it much more difficult for thieves.
• Have catalytic converters etched or forensically marked, and put stickers in the windscreen to say this has been done.
• Look for car parks with a Secured Car Park sign which have recognised levels of security. If you have a garage at home, ensure you use it and lock it properly.
• Noisy gravel
Inspector Nicola Dean, from the Crime Reduction Unit said: “Thieves have been targeting specific models and we will be writing to owners of pre 2008 Honda Jazz models, Toyota Prius (2004 to 2016 inclusive) and Toyota Arius (2012 to 2018 inclusive), to offer free catalytic converter marking.
PC Dale Tomkins said: “Thieves tend to target vehicles such as vans and 4x4s that have a higher ground clearance making the converters more easily accessible. However, all types of vehicles are vulnerable.
The thieves make about £300 to £500 from every converter stolen, fenced through scrap metal dealers, with car manufacturers warning that a gap in the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 enables dodgy dealers to buy them without checks required on where they came from.