BRITISH drivers are being targeted more than ever by brazen thieves looking to cash in on valuable car parts.
And motorists who unknowingly drive without one could also be hit with £1,000 fine if caught by the police.
Recent figures from AA Insurance reveals the number of catalytic converter thefts have increased ten-fold since the start of the year.
Shockingly, 79 catalytic converter claims were made to AA services in October, up from just eight in January this year.
The catalytic converter is part of your car’s exhaust system, and works to convert the toxic gases your motor produces into less harmful substances to be emitted.
Criminals are now targeting the vital part as it contains a number of valuable metals, making it a prized possession for illegal scrap dealers.
Drivers who fall victim to the theft might not even know the part has been stolen as the car can still run without it.
But if you don’t have a converter fitted, your car will produce emissions above the permitted standard, making it illegal to drive on the road.
Police can fine £1,000 if the catalytic converter is missing, regardless if you didn’t know about it.
Although these thefts represent a small percentage of all insurance claims made, the number have rapidly increased in the past two years.
As there is often no third party in these cases, drivers claiming against their insurance policy would also lose their no claims discount.
Janet Connor, managing director at AA insurance services, said: “A tenfold increase in claims for catalytic converters due to theft is a shocking revelation.
“Criminals are being bold and brash by stealing converters in broad daylight, as they believe passers-by won’t question someone tinkering underneath a car.
“Where possible, drivers should park in a garage or in a well-lit area.
“Manufacturers have also developed anti-theft devices which can be attached to the fixings and give the converter a unique serial number.
“Concerned drivers should contact their dealer for further information.
“Scrap dealers and online auction sites have a role to play too, by making appropriate checks to ensure the parts being sold or scrapped have not been illegally gained.”