Fleet operators and their drivers are being urged to maintain their vigilance regarding the security of key components within their vehicles. A spate of stolen catalytic converters has been reported across London and the east of England, which has led to calls from the Metropolitan and Cambridgeshire police forces to implore fleets to take sufficient precautions and ensure their vehicles are less attractive to criminals.

Catalytic converters are certainly a prized possession for thieves, particularly given the rise in the value of precious metals in the last 12 to 18 months. The price of palladium has reached £1,300 per ounce and rhodium is valued at £4,000 per ounce; both of which can be found in a catalytic converter, along with platinum.

In the capital alone, the Metropolitan Police confirmed there were 2,894 reported thefts of catalytic converters in the first half of 2019. That’s a 73% rise in the number of catalytic converters stolen throughout the entirety of 2018. The figures are somewhat smaller but equally worrying in Cambridgeshire, with 61 reported thefts between mid-June and mid-August.

More than two-thirds of the vehicles affected in Cambridgeshire were Honda Jazz, Toyota Prius and Toyota Auris models; some of which are hybrid vehicles. Hybrids are particularly attractive to catalytic converter thieves.

That’s because the catalytic converter is used less frequently to process pollutants in hybrids that use electricity as well as petrol or diesel to power their vehicles. Consequently, the metals are expected to be of a higher quality, having experienced less corrosion.

Some vehicle manufacturers have sought to make it harder for catalytic converters to be accessed via their designs. For instance, Honda’s 2015 Accord and Jazz models have the catalytic converter fitted within the engine bay, requiring thieves to remove the entire engine to reach it.

In a bid to encourage fleets and domestic drivers to take better care of their catalytic converters, Cambridgeshire Police has issued the following precautions:

• Keep vehicles kept nearby fences, kerbs and walls, ensuring exhausts are positioned as close to fences, kerbs and walls as possible to make theft harder.

• Consider purchasing locks for catalytic converters, which can be fitted to lock it to the vehicle, preventing their simple removal.

• For catalytic converters that are bolted onto vehicles, consider having them welded too.

• Mark your vehicle’s catalytic converter with a registration system to act as a deterrent to theft and make it easier to identify if stolen.

• For vehicles parked on driveways, consider installing video doorbells or driveway alarms to notify you of suspicious activity.