The first six months of 2019 saw the number of catalytic converter thefts soar to 2,894, compared to 1,674 thefts for all of 2018.
The RAC, which analysed the data, warn that hybrid vehicles are particularly vulnerable because their catalytic converters are used less frequently than in petrol or diesel motors and are less likely to corrode.
The prices of precious metals used in car exhaust systems exploded in recent months, with palladium worth £1,300 per ounce, and rhodium selling for £4,000 per ounce, according to FJ Church and Sons, a specialist metals merchant.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Catalytic converters contain a honeycomb coated with precious metals, such as platinum and palladium, which help to reduce and filter the harmful gases from the vehicles’ exhaust systems.
“When global values of these metals go up so do scrap prices and this usually leads to a spate of thefts.
“Any motorist who has their vehicle’s catalytic converter stolen faces a repair bill running into thousands of pounds. With Christmas fast approaching this is the last thing drivers need.”
Toyota recently suffered backlash after asking customers to pay hundreds of pounds to retrofit ‘Catlocs’, designed to make converters harder to steal.
The company says it has reduced the cost of Catlocs to between £200 and £250 and does not profit from their sale.
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