Catalytic converter thefts soar due to rocketing value of precious metals they contain
- Some police forces saw thefts rise by more than 400 per cent due to gangs
- Thefts across England, Wales and Northern Ireland risen by 104 per cent
- Rare metals that are found in catalytic converters are more valuable than gold
Thefts of catalytic converters have more than doubled in the last year due to the rocketing value of precious metals.
Some police forces have seen them rise by more than 400 per cent, with organised gangs targeting dozens of cars a day.
Between 2019 and 2020, thefts across England, Wales and Northern Ireland rose by 104 per cent on average, figures from 25 forces obtained by Which? show.
A single converter, which cleans harmful gases before they exit an exhaust pipe, can fetch as much as £400
Rare metals found in catalytic converters are more valuable than gold and can be easily sold on.
So a single converter, which cleans harmful gases before they exit an exhaust pipe, can fetch as much as £400.
Cheshire Police’s assistant chief constable Jenny Simms said: ‘We recognise the impact [of this] on victims. Policing and law enforcement agencies will continue to ensure that this low-risk/high-reward crime is targeted and offenders are brought to justice.’
Figures from 25 forces show that North Wales Police saw the largest increase, from 9 thefts in 2019 to 46 in 2020- a rise of 411 per cent.
Merseyside Police recorded a 295 per cent increase, from 20 stolen in 2019 to 79 last year.
Rural forces such as Norfolk and Suffolk also saw more than a 250 per cent increase in reports.
In April, a national police crackdown led to more than 1,000 stolen catalytic converters being recovered.
Over a week, a joint operation saw officers made 56 arrests, recover 1,037 stolen catalytic converters and 297 items of stolen property.
The previous generation of the Toyota Prius and Auris, and the Honda Jazz hybrid models are particularly at risk due to their higher concentration of precious metals.
Last month a masked gang wielding baseball bats were captured on CCTV dancing in delight in Longsight, Greater Manchester, as they ripped the part from underneath a Toyota Prius belonging to foster carers of a disabled child.
Motorists are facing eye-watering repair costs, soaring premiums or even complete write-offs, according to the consumer group Which.
Insurance group Admiral recently warned of a 57 per cent increase in catalytic converter claims in March this year compared to the same month last year.
Rare metals found in catalytic converters are more valuable than gold and can be easily sold on
The average cost of a claim for damage is now more than £1,500, it said.
The AA has also seen a surge in breakdowns due to the crime.
The number of breakdowns it attended due to stolen catalytic converters rose from just 58 in 2017 to 3,910 in 2020.
There are some measures drivers can take to protect their vehicles, such as contacting the manufacturer to retrofit a ‘catlock’ – a protective cage that makes it harder for thieves to get the catalytic converter off.
The parts can also be marked with a serial number for identification.
Some of the stolen parts are being openly traded online.
Which? found advertisements offering cash for scrap catalytic converters on Facebook Marketplace, despite this being made an offence under the 2013 Scrap Metal Dealers Act.