How can I protect my car's catalytic converter?
Catalytic converters – how to protect yours from theft You might not be aware of your catalytic converter but it’s an important part of your exhaust system and if it’s missing, your car will produce emissions above legal limits.
As catalytic converter theft continues to rise, we talk you through some of the steps you can take to reduce the chances of thieves targeting your vehicle.
Why do criminals target catalytic converters? Catalytic converters contain precious metals that help to reduce harmful emissions escaping from exhausts. When global values of the metals go up, it can lead to a spate of thefts.
The materials contained within like platinum, palladium and especially rhodium have shot up in value in recent years.
Since the parts are easily accessed, the crime itself is a relatively quick one for thieves to carry out.
The popularity of hybrid cars has also contributed to a surge in the crime. Because the greener vehicles run on their internal combustion engine less often than a petrol or diesel car, their catalytic converters see less action and the metals inside are usually less corroded.
While hybrid cars are often targeted, vehicles that sit higher from the ground, such as SUVs and vans, are more likely to be stolen from too. The greater clearance under the vehicle makes their catalytic converter an easier target for thieves.
Which cars are most targeted by catalytic converter theft? The Toyota Prius, Toyota Auris, Honda Jazz and the Honda CR-V are all top targets for thieves. It's believed that this is mostly due to the catalytic converter's location being easy to access.
How big of a problem is catalytic converter theft?
Catalytic converter theft is estimated to cost car insurance customers an average of £1,500 – and that’s before you consider rising premium costs. Worryingly, the crime could also make your car a write off.
Car insurance companies have noticed the growing problem too. In the year starting from March 2020, the price of Rhodium increased by more than 200%. It’s no coincidence that one insurance provider reported a 57% rise in catalytic converter thefts in March 2021, compared with the year before.
Similarly, the Metropolitan Police investigated 15,000 reports of the thefts in 2020, compared with 9,500 over the previous year.1 Profits from the crime are believed to fund bigger crimes in the UK and abroad.
The Scrap Metal Dealers Act, launched in 2013, attempted to cut the crime by banning cash sales and demanding that dealers carry out identity checks on sellers. But years of limited enforcement and restrictive council powers have made little difference in stemming the tide.
The professional cleaning required in order to make the metals within a stolen converter accessible also indicates that scrap dealers are being bypassed by organised criminals anyway.
Reduce the chance of your catalytic converter being stolen
If you’re worried that thieves might target your car’s catalytic converter, there’s still hope.
Our tips below could prevent a would-be criminal from completing their next dodgy scrap metal deal.
1. Choose where to park your car carefully
Where possible, park your car in a locked garage.
If you don’t have the luxury of off-street parking or you’re not at home, you should park with the side of the car closest to the catalytic converter near to a fence, wall, high kerb or other vehicles, and avoid mounting the pavement on two wheels. In most cases this is the side where your exhaust pipe is.Catalytic converter thieves need to get under your car to get a hold of their loot. You should make this as difficult as possible and give them limited space to use a jack and to slide beneath your vehicle to unscrew bolts or cut parts away using power tools.
Some brazen criminals will work in broad daylight, but parking in well-lit areas to prevent the thieves from working under the cover of darkness can help.
2. Boost your home security
To boost your home security, you can invest in sturdy garage doors, CCTV systems and even alarms for your driveway. Kit out your property with three things in mind:
Try fitting reinforced garage doors or adding a motion-triggered security light overlooking your drive. A combination of both will help to deter would-be thieves before they strike.
CCTV cameras will help you to gather evidence during a theft. Your reaction
Some driveway alarm systems will alert the police immediately when they detect an intruder. The automated technology can make all the difference after a crime and may help the police catch a fleeing criminal.
Not all security features have to involve top-of-the-range technology. You can try adding gravel or other loose material to your drive to deter intruders from stepping foot on your property.
You should also ensure that fences, bushes and walls at the front of your garden are no more than one metre high.2 That way you give intruders less opportunity to hide and can keep an eye on your car if it’s parked on the street outside your property.
3. Add a lock, guard or alarm to your vehicle
Locks and guards for the underside of cars are also available. You can also consider installing a catalytic converter protection device, which is designed to make it more difficult for a thief to remove the converter.