METAL thieves are targeting catalytic converters in hybrid cars across Cork city.
Several cars have been targeted in recent weeks and gardaí are now warning car owners to take precautions to prevent their cars being hit.
It is understood that it takes thieves just a few minutes to steal the converters.
Catalytic converters in hybrid vehicles are being targeted because there is less corrosion as there is less usage of it to process pollutants. The converters are in the exhaust system, cleaning up exhaust gases before they are emitted from the car.
Thieves are keen to steal them because they contain palladium, rhodium and platinum, which are very valuable.
According to gardaí, cars parked in car parks and on streets have been hit by metal thieves.
Crime Prevention Officer Sgt Tony Davis said: “If you have one of the hybrid cars or models that have a catalytic convert fitted please be aware of the threat and take simple precautions. Extra locks can be purchased to secure the catalytic converter or consider welding it to frame and engrave the cars VIN Number to it.”
He added: “Park in well-lit areas ideally covered by CCTV or where passing pedestrian traffic can observe. If you have a garage use it and set the car alarm. Some car alarms can detect vibration through sensors. These thefts don’t take long and if you see somebody in a public area interfering with a car, contact gardaí immediately.”
Earlier this year, Toyota UK issued a warning to car owners about such thefts and have updated it in recent days.
The company said: "Any car fitted with a catalytic converter could be at risk. In Toyota’s case it is second and third-generation Prius models (2004-2009 and 2009-2016 respectively) and second-generation Auris Hybrids (2012-2018) which have been particular targets for thieves."
The company added: "The rapid rise in this crime in 2019 is one we could not have envisaged, set against many years of low incidence of catalytic converter theft."