There has been a rise of catalytic converter thefts from cars in and around Watford, a garage has said. 

Steven Eagell Toyota garage in Ascot Road, Croxley Green has said it is struggling to deal with the number of people coming in for replacements of stolen catalytic converters in the last few weeks.

The device cleans up harmful gases from the car engine before they exit the exhaust pipe. 

It is second and third generation Toyota Prius' and second generation Auris' which are being targeted, the garage said. 

John Pannell, from Watford, had his catalytic converter stolen a few days ago when he was parked at Watford Junction train station.

Mr Pannell, who drives a Toyota Auris, explained he had to claim the theft on his insurance because of the increased demand for replacement converts at the garage, and will have to pay a £250 excess as a result. He will be given a loan car for 21 days while his car is being repaired.

Hillingdon Times:

The Toyota Prius and Auris are said to be the main cars targeted for catalytic converter thefts. Photo: Getty Images

“But it won’t be good enough if my car isn’t repaired in that time and I will have to press Toyota,” Mr Pannell explained.

“I have spoken to others and read online that catalytic converter thefts are on the rise.”

A service worker at the Ascot Road garage revealed how demand for the converters is so high that an owner decided to keep their car in the garage for months until a converter could be fitted.

They said: “We physically cannot carry out the work at the moment. Toyota have not given us an estimated time of arrival as to when we can get parts to carry out the work.

“At the moment, we are struggling to deal with the amount of people coming for replacements.

“We have to explain to people that demand is quite high and people are unfortunately having to wait. It is a big problem.”

Hillingdon Times:

The Toyota Prius and Auris are said to be the main cars targeted for catalytic converter thefts. Photo: Getty Images

Toyota explained the increase in reported thefts has made it difficult to provide the needed parts and are taking “urgent” action to address the problem with suppliers.

But while Toyota drivers are forced to wait, the service worker added that some customers are going through their insurance for replacement converters. This could affect drivers no claims bonuses, which is collected after each year without a claim.

A spokesperson from Toyota said: “This sudden rise (of thefts) is one we could not have envisaged set against many years of low incidents of theft. This has impacted our ability to source enough of the parts we need in some cases, for which we sincerely apologise; but we are taking urgent action to address this with our suppliers.

“Our priority is our customers and we are working hard to try to support them against the background of these distressing crimes.

“We have also introduced, at a reduced price, a Catloc device, which can help to deter theft and we are taking further action to ensure the price of fitting a replacement catalytic converter at a Toyota approved service centre is minimised, as well as exploring other technical possibilities which may help such as tilt sensors.”