Toyota has committed £1 million to marking catalytic converters in a bid to help police arrest and charge criminals.
Catalytic converter theft has become a huge problem in the UK in recent years, with car insurer Admiral saying it saw a 44 per cent jump for claims related to the issue in 2020.
They have become a target because some of the rare metals found within the exhaust emission control devices are incredibly valuable.
Older petrol-electric hybrid vehicles are targeted more than other types because the hybrid system means the catalyst has a lower workload, meaning it is in better condition. Toyota and its sister company Lexus started using hybrids earlier than most, meaning their vehicles are often targeted more.
As a result, the Japanese firm is investing in police-approved marking kits, made by a firm called Smartwater. These leave an invisible mark on the device, which allows police to track stolen converters and tie them to a specific crime.
Owners of older Toyota and Lexus vehicles can receive the markings free of charge.
The firm says its more modern hybrids use a different design and are not targeted for theft. However, because this issue affects older cars it can be difficult to contact owners, so it has supplied 20,000 kits from its initial batch of 50,000 directly to police. AA breakdown patrols will also advise owners where they can receive the free kits.
Rob Giles, director of customer services at Toyota GB, said: “Catalytic converter theft is a very serious problem in the UK and the effects on victims of this crime are emotional as well as financial.
“We’re pleased to be starting this initiative, working closely with the police, not only to help them with their efforts to combat this crime but also to send a clear message to criminals that if they choose to target a Toyota or Lexus car there is now a far higher chance of getting caught.”