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Islington police send warning to hybrid car owners after spate of catalytic converter thefts

PUBLISHED: 14:07 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:23 25 November 2019

A file image of the Toyota Prius. Rui Vieira/PA Wire

A file image of the Toyota Prius. Rui Vieira/PA Wire

PA Archive/PA Images

Police have warned car owners to remain vigilant after an increase in criminal activity targeting hybrid vehicles within the borough.

Local police teams have given the warnings due to a spate of thefts involving Toyota Prius and Honda Jazz cars.

They have attributed this recent rise to the growing value of catalytic converters, with Sgt Daniel James of Islington Police saying the devices "contain high value materials which can be sold on easily."

Catalytic converters change harmful exhaust emissions into less damaging alternatives, using precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.

These can range in value from £22.78 per gram of platinum up to £54.30 for rhodium.

Given that there are around 3g to 7g grams of these metals within a catalytic converter, these devices have significant value to thieves, and they can cost car owners over £1,000 to replace.

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With their prices having risen, thefts across the whole of London have soared from 173 in 2017 to almost 3,000 in just the first six months of this year.

In Islington, vehicle crime has reached its highest level in a decade.

Police have taken multiple steps to reassure residents in response, with St George's safer neighbourhoods team organising high visibility patrols which aim to "target the most affected areas in order to deter and detect offences."

In Highbury West, police recommend the purchase of Catloc devices, which enclose the converter to make it more difficult to remove.

These don't come cheap, however, costing up to £250 while being unable to provide complete protection.

Furthermore, this message does not appear to be getting through to residents, as a local Prius owner was unaware of Catloc devices, despite having heard police warnings. He called the recent thefts "worrying," noting his fears of vehicle crime in the area.

Inspector Thomas Ashley of Islington Police told The Islington Gazette that catalytic converter theft is a "sporadic issue", and recommended local residents "try and park their vehicles in well-lit areas, utilise additional physical security… and [report] any suspicious activity" in order to reduce their risk.

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