July 3, 2022

UK drivers had £71.2million of components stolen from their automobiles final 12 months as a report exhibits how our motors have turn into an more and more straightforward goal for criminals trying to money in on costly elements they will simply pinch.

An estimated 474,600 components had been unlawfully taken from automobiles in 2021, in line with an investigation by insurer Direct Line.

Whereas registration plates had been probably the most generally taken merchandise, it’s nearly 40,000 thefts of precious-metal-laden catalytic converters are inflicting victims of automobile crime the most important monetary complications.

Not solely are these costly to interchange, the injury precipitated when rapidly eradicating them can – in worst instances – write a automobile off totally.

Rise of the cat burglars: An estimated 474,600 components had been unlawfully taken from automobiles final 12 months and 40,000 of those had been catalytic converts, in accordance analysis by Direct Line

Direct Line mentioned it sourced its figures from a Freedom of Data request to native policing authorities.

The information means that within the final three years the whole worth of stolen automobile components has reached a whopping £744million – that’s the equal of practically £680,000 being stolen daily.

Of the 474,000 elements pinched in 2021 alone, 53,400 had been quantity plates.

The insurer says the elevated use of ANPR (automated quantity plate recognition) cameras to patrol our roads has led to an increase in criminals stealing registration plates to placed on an identical automobile they’re utilizing to commit offences to keep away from detection.

However whereas getting alternative plates is comparatively cheap (Halfords chargers £5 per plate) the second mostly stolen automobile half is so much pricier to not simply substitute but in addition restore the injury precipitated throughout their illegally elimination.

Catalytic converters, the exhaust emission management units which can be sometimes called ‘cats’, have turn into a simple goal for felony gangs – and a few 39,900 had been taken by thieves final 12 months. 

The mixed worth of all cats taken since 2019 is over £16million, Direct Line calculates. 

The catalytic converter takes gases produced by petrol engines and converts them into water vapour and less harmful emissions via a series of chemical reactions before it comes out of the exhaust pipe

The catalytic converter takes gases produced by petrol engines and converts them into water vapour and fewer dangerous emissions through a sequence of chemical reactions earlier than it comes out of the exhaust pipe 

Palladium inside the devices is extremely valuable, hence why gangs are targeting cars to steal them

Palladium contained in the units is extraordinarily beneficial, therefore why gangs are concentrating on automobiles to steal them

They’re fitted to all automobiles with a petroleum engine manufactured after 1993 and are designed to cut back the dangerous pollution emitted from automobile exhaust pipes.

They do that by taking the gases produced and changing them into water vapour and fewer dangerous emissions through a sequence of chemical reactions.

The units are made up of an array of beneficial supplies together with palladium, rhodium and platinum.

Prison gangs are actually properly conscious of this small fortune saved beneath your automobile and the monetary return of stealing the units to extract the metals from them.

Driving a vehicle that's had its catalytic converter stolen can land motorists with a fine of up to £1,000 because the car will be producing higher levels of pollution than they are allowed to

Driving a automobile that’s had its catalytic converter stolen can land motorists with a superb of as much as £1,000 as a result of the automobile can be producing increased ranges of air pollution than they’re allowed to

Direct Line, working with the College of Huddersfield on a brand new ‘Reality about Automobile Theft’ marketing campaign, interviewed former prolific automobile thieves to grasp the motive, means and alternatives for automobile crime – and it highlighted the desirability of catalytic converters.

One convicted automobile thief mentioned: ‘Cats are price good cash all day lengthy. I do know…ones…minimal £150. Even should you’re simply doing them in an evening, you could possibly get 30 or 40.’

Rachel Armitage, Professor of Criminology on the college, mentioned automobile components theft is seen by criminals as ‘excessive reward and low threat’. 

‘Lots of the convicted thieves in our examine had been returning to the crime as it’s a simple to commit opportunist offence, particularly with many automobiles being left unsecured,’ she provides.

‘Ease of coming into or stealing automobiles was a recurring theme, with a streamlined technique of promoting components and property stolen from unattended automobiles to achieve money.’

Catalytic converter thefts can write off automobiles

Drivers will certainly know if the catalytic converter has been stolen from the underside of their automobile, even when the injury isn’t seen at first.

The exhaust will not be related and make a a lot louder noise when driving – a lot in order that it is going to be unimaginable to not detect.

Whereas the automobile will nonetheless be driveable, elimination of the machine will set off a warning gentle on the dashboard, scale back gasoline financial system and trigger loads of complications from the extra exhaust roar.

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Whereas extra expert thieves are unscrewing them from the underside of automobiles, others are taking a extra ham-fisted method and sawing cats off, inflicting irreversible injury and leading to some homeowners having to interchange complete exhaust programs. 

The catalytic converter is part of a vehicle's exhaust system. Criminals in a hurry are sawing them off, causing irreversible damage that can result in repair bills of up to £3,000

The catalytic converter is a part of a automobile’s exhaust system. Criminals in a rush are sawing them off, inflicting irreversible injury that can lead to restore payments of as much as £3,000 

And since there may be usually no third occasion to say towards, drivers utilizing their polices to cowl restore prices are additionally shedding their No Claims Low cost, except in any other case protected. 

You should purchase units to safe your catalytic converter

Involved drivers can buy units that lock in across the converter to make it harder to take away. 

Suppliers embody Catloc and Catclamp, which might be put in on plenty of completely different automobiles.

Nevertheless, they’re not low cost, with costs as excessive as £250 for some fashions.

Motoring affiliation MotorEasy estimates the typical value to interchange a catalytic converter is as much as £1,300, with over £900 of the fee being components.

Nevertheless, the AA says claims have amounted to something between £2,000 and £3,000 when the units have been sawed away from the exhaust.

In some cases, thefts have resulted in automobiles being written off totally. 

That’s as a result of the price of repairing injury precipitated might be deemed uneconomical by insurers if the automobile is of low worth.

Victims of this crime may face lengthy ready occasions to acquire a brand new catalytic converter to be fitted. 

Toyota mentioned in 2020 that it not envisaged the ‘speedy rise’ in thefts, which in flip had ‘impacted our means to supply sufficient of the components we want in some instances’. 

This implies victims are unable to make use of their automobiles till a alternative half is fitted, else face a penalty. 

Motorists caught by police driving a automobile realizing the catalytic converter has been eliminated might be fined as much as £1,000 as a result of the automobile can be producing increased ranges of air pollution than they’re allowed to. 

Which automobiles are mostly focused by catalytic converter thieves?

Whereas cats are fitted to all petrol-powered automobiles produced from 1993, criminals are mostly going after these fitted to petrol-electric hybrid fashions. 

These have been earmarked by the black marketplace for having the best-quality components as a result of they comprise the next focus of treasured metals and are usually much less corroded. 

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Insurer Admiral says probably the most vulnerable hybrid fashions are the Honda Jazz, Toyota Prius, Toyota Auris and Lexus RX of all generations and ages.

Hybrid cars are ripe for thieves as the catalytic converters contain a higher concentration of precious metals and are generally less corroded. It's no surprise then that the Toyota Prius - the most-bought hybrid in the UK - is among the list of cars criminals are preying on

Hybrid automobiles are ripe for thieves because the catalytic converters comprise the next focus of treasured metals and are usually much less corroded. It’s no shock then that the Toyota Prius – the most-bought hybrid within the UK – is among the many listing of automobiles criminals are preying on

Honda's hybrid version of the Jazz is also on the shopping list of these organised criminals. The Jazz is popular among older drivers and therefore tend to have accumulated fewer miles, meaning their catalytic converters will be in good condition

Honda’s hybrid model of the Jazz can also be on the procuring listing of those organised criminals. The Jazz is widespread amongst older drivers and subsequently are inclined to have collected fewer miles, which means their catalytic converters can be in good situation 

The Toyota Auris hybrid - the sister car to the Prius - has also been identified by Admiral as a prime target

The Lexus RX hybrid SUV is another model that's often preyed on by thieves of catalytic converters

The Toyota Auris hybrid (left) – the sister automobile to the Prius – has additionally been recognized by Admiral as a chief goal.  The Lexus RX hybrid SUV (proper) is one other mannequin that’s usually preyed on by thieves of catalytic converters

Lorraine Worth, Head of Direct Line Motor Insurance coverage, mentioned: ‘Our analysis exhibits the preferred automobile components stolen, quantity plates and catalytic converters, are each on the surface of the automobile, which means it’s merely not sufficient to only double lock your automobile. 

‘Motorists ought to be certain that to park in well-lit, populated areas and look out for CCTV cameras.’ 

> Wish to know that are Britain’s most stolen automobile fashions? Learn our unique report right here 

Police tricks to preserve your automobile protected from catalytic converter thieves 

1. If attainable, park in a locked storage or in a well-lit, densely populated space

2. Should you don’t have entry to a storage, park near fences, partitions or kerbs with the exhaust being closest to the barrier; this may make the theft harder

3. Keep away from mounting your automobile on the kerb to park because it provides thieves easy accessibility

4. In case your catalytic converter’s bolted on ask your native storage to weld the bolts to make it harder to take away

5. Contemplate a ‘cage clamp’ which locks across the converter

6. Converse to your automobile dealership a couple of tilt sensor that prompts the alarm if somebody tries to jack up your automobile

7. Should you see somebody appearing suspiciously beneath a automobile, report it to the police

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