One third of car insurance theft claims are for catalytic converters

Published 26 April 2021

Catalytic converter thefts now account for one third of insurance theft claims, according to car insurer Ageas, with new and old vehicles alike falling victim to the crime.

Criminals have been targeting cars for their catalytic converters during lockdown in order to fuel the illegal trade of precious metals, according to the RAC and Ageas. Catalytic converters form part of the car’s exhaust system and converting pollutants into less harmful gases.

>>> How can I avoid catalytic converter theft?

Ageas Insurance says it has seen a marked rise in theft of catalytic converters since the March 2020 lockdown just over a year ago, with this type of crime now accounting for three-in-10 of all theft claims reported.

Most thefts have happened while the car has been parked at their owner's home, either on the driveway or the road, although in a very small number of cases thieves were brazen enough to steal them in supermarket car parks while the driver was shopping.

Catalytic converter theft represented 19.8 per cent of thefts from private vehicles in October to December 2019. This increased to 29.7 per cent from January to March 2021, according to Ageas’ own claims data.

Police Investigate

The prices of particular precious metals in the car's exhaust system has skyrocketed in recent months, with a report from the Financial Times noting that the price of Rhodium has increased by 200 per cent since March 2020. The Guardian also reported that Palladium sold for about £138 per ounce in 2008 but — in February 2020 — it was trading at £1803.

Owners of hybrid cars, like the Toyota Prius, are common victims. This has led to some carmakers producing their own catalytic converter locks, like Toyota’s Catlock. However, hybrid car manufacturers in recent years have reduced the volume of these metals in the devices in a bid to preserve the precious stocks and make catalytic converters less attractive to thieves.

With that said, older low-mileage cars that are less likely to have catalytic converter locks fitted are also being heavily targeted. has received a number of reports via ASK HJ about non-hybrid cars which have had their catalytic converters forcefully removed by thieves.

Thieves will often pretend to be on-call mechanics and use power tools to cut through exhaust pipes – often in broad daylight outside people’s homes and even in car supermarkets. It only takes a matter of minutes for the converter to be removed. Cars that have had their converter stolen cannot be legally driven either.

Parking On Street HJ

As there’s no one to claim from in the case of theft, many car owners are hit with the cost of replacing the converter, plus the increase in insurance premiums are renewal. For older modes, the cost of replacing the catalytic converter can also be enough to write off the car.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams says: “Drivers are often oblivious of their vehicle’s catalytic converter being stolen. Our patrols are often called to attend cars that have suddenly become excessively noisy. On investigation it’s very often the case that the car’s catalytic converter has been stolen.

“We’d strongly recommend motorists get in the habit of taking extra precautions to guard against this type of crime. Generally speaking, most car crime takes place at night, so it makes sense to park a vehicle in a well-lit and residential location, or ideally in a garage if available. When away from home, look for car parks that have security patrols and are covered by CCTV.”


TONY MARSHALL    on 26 April 2021

If you park half on the kerb, you might as well leave it jacked up for the thieves.

   on 26 April 2021

Also years ago and still happens today new and nearly new SUVs parked in garage forecourts were targeted by crime teams. A catalytic converter can be removed in less than 10minutes with a cutting tool so just take extra precaution where you leave your car especially if it is for a prolonged period

Martin Johnson    on 26 April 2021

Surely it makes sense for car manufacturers to fit alarms that are activated when cars are jacked up via mercury switches etc to gain access to the cat. The driver owner would have the facility to switch the alarm off if they themselves needed to jack the car up or if being driven (ie over sleeping policemen.

andrew gad    on 27 April 2021

I have a 2010 Prius who's 'Cat' was removed in an Ikea car park in daylight. It now has the Toyota 'Catloc' fitted and a secondary alarm with a tilt switch. But I'm still nervous about where i park it. A battery powered grinding wheel will cut through anything - including any Cat protector. I want to change my car and I'm debating if it's worth getting another hybrid.

conman    on 27 April 2021

Catalytic converters are nothing just wait for all these electric vehicles with batteries worth thousands and thousands of pounds hit the road. These will become easy targets as the manufacturers are fitting them with easy to steal security system keyless entry. Why would anyone in their right mind buy a car that can be stolen without keys in about 3 minutes.

I hope anyone that has keyless entry follow the advice on the right hand column on this page.

Edited by conman on 27/04/2021 at 16:16

Lee Power    on 28 April 2021

Newer keyless entry systems have motion detection built in to the fob.

Once the fob is put down on a table / hung on a hook for examples after about a minute the fob will sense its no longer moving & stop transmitting its signal.

Stops relay theft.

I know Ford & Toyota are now using these newer secure keyless fobs on certain models.

conman    on 4 May 2021

That's a fantastic security method. So when you go shopping to Tesco, Morrison's etc, does one of you sit down in a chair and wait for the other person to shop or do you walk around thus actuating your key ready for it to be stolen. that system is great when your tucked up in bed, but out and about it's useless. The only way is when you park your car is to put it in a faraday bag whilst shopping just hoping that they haven't scammed you before you put it in the bag.

The manufacturers aren't bothered because it is your insurance you will be claiming on when it's stolen.

Good luck though, but for me it's not worth it.

hissingsid    on 27 April 2021

I see many cars parked vulnerably on driveways overnight because their garages are full of bikes, freezers and lawnmowers.
If you have a garage, use it for it's intended purpose. Put the bikes and the lawnmower in the shed, then keep the car safely in the garage.

conman    on 4 May 2021

Looking back at some security questions raised by readers many are asking how do I prevent my keyless entry car from being stolen using relay theft. Also don't forget the thieves could be waiting at your local Tesco or Morrisons store just waiting for you to disappear in to do your shopping.
The keyless entry system is one of the worst security systems ever added to cars. In has in fact stopped me buying some cars due to this. Believe it or not even 2 out of the 3 models of Dacia have this stupid system.
Luckily for me I managed to find a manufacturer that actually cares about it's customers and only fits Keyless entry to it's top model. The car I have ordered is a new Seat Leon SE Dynamics, it does have one keyless security but that is keyless start. You still have to press the little button on the keyfob to open it. Better get my finger in training then.
The answer to many of these questions on how do I protect my keyless entry car is simple. Do what I have done and don't buy one.

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