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Toyota driver at Maidstone Hospital left without car after catalytic converter theft

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Security is to be stepped up at Maidstone Hospital after a ‘small number’ of catalytic converter thefts.

Increased patrols, improved lighting and extra CCTV alongside a dedicated control room are to be introduced to deter thieves from hospital grounds.

The theft happened in Maidstone hospitals multi-storey car park
The theft happened in Maidstone hospitals multi-storey car park

One victim has been told they will have to wait until next month before the damage can be repaired as replacement parts are in short supply.

The victim’s Toyota was targeted in the staff car park off Hermitage Lane on May 3 - with thieves cutting through wires and metal grills to reach the part.

He is also looking at a minimum repair cost of £1,500 and says the replacement part will not be available until early June.

The victim, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “This is not the first time this has happened. I know at least my car and one other were targeted.

“They also caused a lot of collateral damage by cutting wires to disarm the car alarm.”

According to reports, Toyotas are a common target
According to reports, Toyotas are a common target

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospital Trust said occurrences were rare but steps were being taken to address the issue.

It said: “There have been a very small number of thefts in the car park although these are extremely rare occurrences.

“We have increased security patrols in our car parks. The trust is also looking to improve the car park’s lighting and over this summer, additional CCTV is being installed alongside a dedicated control room,” it stated.

Increasing value of the precious metals found in catalytic converters has seen a spike in thefts reported.

A report back in April 21 said that due to the increasing price of the precious metals found in a catalytic converter, thefts of the of the car part designed to reduce harmful emissions has risen since the pandemic.

Damage to the cars undercarriage. Picture: Krisztian
Damage to the cars undercarriage. Picture: Krisztian

Victims often only realise they have been targeted when they hear loud noises from their exhaust.

In April 2019, Toyota released a comment, which was updated in May 2021, about the delay in catalytic converter distribution.

It said: The rapid rise in this crime is one we could not have envisaged, set against many years of low incidence of catalytic converter theft.

“This initially impacted our ability to source enough of the parts we needed in some cases, for which we sincerely apologise.

Toyota has restarted production lines in Japan and France that made catalysts for many of the older models targeted in order to supply affected owners, developed a Catloc security device which helps deter theft and ensured it makes no profit at all from the sale of replacement catalysts or from Catlocs, providing them at cost.”

For now, this owner is left without a properly working car.

The Toyota owner said: “We’re scared to go to work as it’s such an unaffordable repair unless you have insurance for theft.

“The cost of the repair is between £1,500-£2,000. There’s also a long wait for parts as there are not enough catalytic converters in the UK due to the huge amount of thefts.

“At the moment the earliest Toyota can get converters is early June.”

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