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Catalytic converter thefts

The theft of catalytic converters is one of the fastest rising crimes in the country, with the number of devices being stolen reportedly rising six-fold in the last year. 
 
Thieves are after three precious metals found inside the devices, the prices of which have skyrocketed in the last few years.  
 
Hybrid cars, in particular, have been targeted by thieves, because they produce lower emissions, so the precious metals are less corroded in their catalytic converters. 
 
But which parts of the country are hardest hit when it comes to the theft of catalytic converters and which have seen the biggest increases over the last few years?** 

The towns and cities with the most catalytic converter thefts 

It’s not much of a surprise that London has the highest amount of catalytic converter thefts over the last three years, with a total of over 15,000, with 12,000 of those thefts taking place in the last year. 
 
Birmingham came in second with 320, with 287 also taking place in neighbouring city Coventry throughout the same period. 

The towns and cities with the biggest increase in catalytic converter thefts 

Where things get really interesting is when you look at how quickly the theft of catalytic converters has increased across the country. 
 
Thefts have generally skyrocketed, increasing the most in Warrington, where 28 thefts took place in the last year, compared with just a single case in the 12 months prior, an increase of 2,700%. 

The London boroughs with the most catalytic converter thefts 

Seeing as London seems to be a real hotspot for the theft of catalytic converters, we also drilled down to see how the issue breaks down by borough. 
 
Barnet had the highest overall number of thefts, with 1,315 over the last three years. In fact, the three worst boroughs are all located in North London, with Enfield second with 876 thefts, and Brent in third with 842. 

The London boroughs with the biggest increase in catalytic converter thefts 

Looking at the London boroughs which have seen thefts of catalytic converters jump the most in the last year, it’s clear to see that thefts have skyrocketed across the capital, but the borough which saw the biggest increase was Sutton, where cases rose from just 26, 12 months prior, to 444, an increase of 1,608%. 

How to protect yourself from theft 

Seeing as the theft of catalytic converters is on the rise right around the country, you might be wondering what you can do to ensure that you’re not a target. 
 
While manufacturers themselves are starting to take steps to make their cars safer from thieves, there are a couple of steps that you can take: 

  • Install CCTV and alarms in the area where you leave your car overnight. 
  • Place a protective covering over your vehicle’s catalytic converter. 
  • Park your vehicle to make it harder to access from underneath (i.e. alongside a fence, kerb or with the bonnet facing a wall). 
  • Etch a serial number onto the catalytic converter to make it more distinctive. 

Brought to you by our car insurance experts at comparethemarket.com.

Methodology 

All figures were sourced via Freedom of Information requests submitted to each police force in the UK on 24/08/2020. 
 
Figures for Manchester and Bolton are not complete, as data is from a system that has not been updated since 9 July, 2019. 
 
**Note that we sent requests to 33 UK police forces, although only received replies from 20 by the required deadline, so the remaining 13 forces are omitted from the data. 

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