Data obtained by Sky News shows that nearly 100,000 thefts of catalytic converters (CATs) have been recorded in three years, with criminals across the UK stealing 75 per day in 2022, according to the news group.
CATs often contain valuable precious metals and are worth up to £600 on the black market. In 2022, criminals stole 28,000 catalytic converters.
Police forces shared CCTV with Sky News, and victims of this CAT theft crime show how quick and brazen thieves are, stealing catalytic converters wherever they can find them at whatever time of day.
According to OPAL, the National Intelligence Unit for Serious Organised Acquisitive Crime and a Sky News Freedom of Information request, from the beginning of 2020 to 30 November 2022, approximately 97,023 catalytic converters were stolen.
Although the worst affected area is London, positive police action has seen thefts drop slightly in the capital since 2020.
James Kelly, head of the British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA), told Sky News:
“Inside catalytic converters, there is this set of platinum metals: rhodium, palladium and platinum, and they are extremely valuable.
They can be up to £4,000 a troy ounce which is equivalent to about 31 grams, and that could equate to about six or seven catalytic converters.”
CATs have become an attractive target for criminals and organised crime due to their value, which is why police forces are using covert operations to try to clamp down on the buying, selling and stealing of this car part.
Supt Mark Cleland, the UK police’s metal crime lead, told Sky News:
“Last year, in the first two weeks of an operation, we reduced crime by 50% nationally. But still 30,000 offences over the last 12 months, and we need as much information about who is involved. Either the public has an idea, or the waste industry has an idea.
That information is absolutely critical to help us catch and lock up people. In another operation, we recovered over 2,000 stolen catalytic converters, so we’re doing the work, we just need that critical intelligence and information to help do our jobs even better.”
As the crime has risen, so too has the price to replace catalytic converters. It is something the AA has noticed as callouts for this problem are increasingly common.’
AA Patroller Sean Sidley said:
“It has a huge impact on people because these catalytic converters aren’t cheap to buy from the manufacturers.
Some customers can fork out as much as £1,500 just to get their car back on the road. I’ve seen some dealerships that are taking quite a while to get them in stock. Getting them across to the UK from Asia has been quite difficult.”
Although CAT theft may look like a small offence, these thefts are being carried out on a large scale, and it is clear the criminals are not letting up.