Between January 31 and February 28, Leicestershire Police recorded at least 20 incidents where the exhaust emission control devices were stolen from cars across the force area – all of which were Toyota Priuses.
There have also been reports of attempted thefts and thefts from cars of other makes.
Det Insp Simon Preston, Leicestershire Police’s lead for vehicle crime, said: “We are seeing an increase in the number of catalytic converter thefts across the force area.
“We believe that this may be linked to the increase in the price of palladium, which is often found in catalytic converters.
“Across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, we have noticed that thieves appear to be targeting Toyota Priuses.
“I am therefore calling on all car owners to remain vigilant and call police if they see any suspicious vehicles or activity in their area.
“We need to work closely with local communities to find those responsible.
“If you notice anything untoward, please get in touch.”
A spokesperson for Toyota added: “Toyota is fully aware of the issue regarding the older generation of Toyota Prius models.
“This is a national issue at present.
“As a result, Toyota has recognised this problem when it was brought to their attention and have created a unique catalytic converter lock which can be fitted retrospectively.
“This special design lock will prevent thefts from occurring.”
If you are concerned about thieves stealing the catalytic converter from your vehicle you should:
- Buy catalytic converter alarms or metal cages, which can be fitted around the catalytic converter to act as a deterrent;
- Use marking kits for catalytic converters, which are available and can help police identify them at scrap yards or on suspect vehicles;
- Keep 4x4s in a garage whenever possible or parked in well-lit places;
- Park in other areas that make it difficult for would-be thieves to access the underside of the vehicle.
Anyone with information is urged to call Leicestershire Police on 101.