Which UK city is most affected by cat con theft?
Thieves want your catalytic converter more than you might think. The device can be found under all vehicles with an internal combustion engine as part of the exhaust system and be removed in less than a minute, making it a common theft affecting those who leave their car in car parks and even in their driveway.
The pollution-controlling device is attractive to criminals thanks to the cost of the precious metals required to make them, including rhodium, palladium, and platinum. The BBC reported in 2019 that palladium was worth £1,300 per oz, while rhodium was valued at £4,000 per oz.
Some hybrid cars have a higher amount of these precious metals in their catalytic converters than other cars, making them particularly susceptible to becoming a target of this type of crime. Trucks and SUVs are also vulnerable because they have higher ground clearance and are easier for criminals to get underneath and access the exhaust.
If your UK car insurance policy covers theft, then you should be insured if someone steals your catalytic converter. However, you should always check your policy to be sure, and you may need temporary car insurance if you’re not covered.
We wanted to find out which areas are experiencing the most catalytic converter thefts in the UK and discover the most popular hybrid cars.
The areas with the most catalytic converter thefts
We sent Freedom of Information requests to each police force in the UK, asking how many catalytic converters have been stolen since 2020. From the police forces that responded, we were able to work out how many catalytic converter thefts occurred per 100,000 licensed vehicles in the area.
- London: 502 thefts per 100,000 people
London, excluding the City of London, comes out on top as the place with the most catalytic converter thefts in the last three years. Since 2020 there have been 30,128 instances of cat cons being stolen, including those obtained by deception or recovered after a theft. That means that per 100,000 licensed vehicles in London there have been 502 thefts since 2020.
- Hertfordshire: 294 thefts per 100,000 people
In second place, Hertfordshire is one of the most affected areas when it comes to thefts of catalytic converters. The Hertfordshire Constabulary recorded that 2,130 catalytic converters were stolen since 2020. For every 100,000 licensed vehicles, there were 294 thefts in the last three years.
- Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, and Luton: 211 thefts per 100,000 people
In third place, the jurisdiction of Bedfordshire Police, including Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, and Luton, is one of the areas most experiencing catalytic converter thefts. With a total of 919 recorded catalytic converters stolen, there were 211 thefts per 100,000 licensed vehicles.
- Somerset, Bath, North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire: 456% increase in thefts
The jurisdiction of Avon and Somerset Police ranks in first place as the area where catalytic converter theft is rising most. From 2020 to 2021 there was a 456% increase in stolen catalytic converters.
- Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, and Powys: 300% increase in thefts
In second place, catalytic converter thefts are rising in the jurisdiction of Dyfed-Powys Police. There was a 300% increase in thefts between the 2020 and 2021 calendar years.
- West Yorkshire: 144% increase in thefts
West Yorkshire is one of the areas where catalytic converter theft is rising the fastest. According to police statistics, there was a 144% increase in catalytic converter thefts from 2020 to 2021.
- Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees: 65% decrease in thefts
There was a 65% decrease in thefts between the 2020 and 2021 calendar years for the jurisdiction of Cleveland Police.
- Norfolk: 29% decrease in thefts
In second place, Norfolk is one of the areas where catalytic converter theft is falling the fastest. There was a decrease of 29’%% in thefts between 2020 and 2021.
- London: 27% decrease in thefts
London, excluding the City of London, ranks in third place for the areas where catalytic converter theft is decreasing. There was a decrease of 27% in thefts between the 2020 and 2021 calendar years.
The most popular hybrid cars worldwide
Hybrid cars can be more affected by catalytic converter thefts than other cars. This is because they sometimes have a higher amount of precious metals, like rhodium, palladium, and platinum in their catalytic converters than other cars.
We wanted to find out what the most popular hybrid cars are across the world, looking at hybrid cars and PHEVs.
- Toyota Prius: 6,523,000 Google searches
The Toyota Prius is the most Googled hybrid car in the world, with 6,523,000 Google searches in the last twelve months. The Toyota Prius was the world’s first mass-produced petrol-electric hybrid car, and its success over the years since its launch is undeniable. The well-loved family car is fuel efficient, has a huge hatchback cargo area, and newer models have a seven-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa integration.
- Toyota Yaris Cross: 6,164,000 Google searches
The Toyota Yaris Cross is a hybrid SUV, allowing drivers to use either electric energy or a combination of both petrol and electric power. With driver assistance technologies, the MyT app and real-time traffic reports, it’s no surprise to see the Toyota Yaris Cross’ popularity worldwide.
- Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: 3,294,000 Google searches
The third Toyota hybrid in our top three, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is one of the most popular hybrid cars worldwide, according to Google searches. Setting them apart from other hybrids, Toyota’s hybrid technology means their hybrid cars always use the electric motor to drive the vehicle, letting the petrol engine supply power to the electric motor when necessary.
- Toyota Prius: 349,200 Google searches
The Toyota Prius is the most popular hybrid car in the UK, getting 349,200 Google searches in the last 12 months.
- Toyota Yaris Cross: 345,500 Google searches
The Toyota Yaris Cross is popular globally and in the UK, ranking in second place for the most Googled hybrid in both locations. In the UK there were 345,500 searches for the Toyota Yaris Cross in the last 12 months.
- Toyota Corolla Hybrid: 204,600 Google searches
The Toyota Corolla Hatchback comes in third place, as the third Toyota hybrid in our top three. Drivers can choose between two hybrid engines: either a 1.8 or 2.0-litre petrol, both of which are known for their low emissions and fuel efficiency.
We wanted to find out the number of catalytic converter thefts from 2020-2022 in each police force jurisdiction in the UK, so we sent Freedom of Information requests to each of the 45 UK police forces. We received responses from 30 police forces by 31st August 2022, detailing either the number of catalytic converters stolen, the number of reports of theft or the number of instances of catalytic converter thefts. The number of thefts for 2022 was provided until the date of response in July or August of 2022.
We then used the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency Vehicle licensing statistics data tables Table VEH0105 to find the number of licensed vehicles of each police jurisdiction and calculated the number of thefts per 100,000 licensed vehicles.
We also wanted to find out the most popular hybrid cars according to Google searches, so we used Google Keyword Planner to find information on searches between August 1, 2021, and July 31, 2022.