Drivers urged to be extra vigilant to deter catalytic converter theft gangs

Under vehicle that has had catalytic converter cut out. Police are urging owners to be extra vigilant. 

Under vehicle that has had catalytic converter cut out. Police are urging owners to be extra vigilant. - Credit: Archant

Motorists have been urged to be extra vigilant after a big rise in the thefts of catalytic convertors in Norfolk. 

People are being urged to report anyone acting suspiciously around vehicles with the pollution-scrubbing devices becoming a target for organised gangs. 

There were 394 catalytic converter thefts in Norfolk in 2020, more than a threefold increase on the previous 12 months.

Offences also more than doubled in Suffolk with 132 thefts reported. 

Behind the rise lies an extraordinary rise in the price of the precious metals contained within catalytic converters. 

Still from from a YouTube video showing the apparent theft of a catalytic converter

Still from from a YouTube video showing the apparent theft of a catalytic converter from a Honda. - Credit: YouTube

One metal in particular – rhodium – has rocketed in price from around £2,200 per ounce at the start of 2019 to £8,769 meaning a couple of ounces costs more than a new car.

Thefts have been reported across Norfolk including from cars parked outside homes in Norwich, Trowse, Great Yarmouth, Thetford and Diss.

In one incident two cars were targeted while parked in the Costessey Park and Ride.

Catalytic converters found in a shipping container in Lincolnshire

Catalytic converters found in a shipping container as part of investigation. - Credit: Environment Agency

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Toyotas and Hondas have been predominantly targeted but other vehicles including Lexus, Mercedes, Mazda and Volkswagen have also been singled out.

In November there was a spate of six thefts in three days with two Toyotas and a Honda targeted in Norwich, a Mazda stripped of its catalytic converter in Attleborough and thefts from Toyota Auris and Honda in Thetford.

Etching catalytic converters with the vehicle registration number to deter thieves.

Etching catalytic converters with the vehicle registration number to deter thieves. - Credit: supplied

Police have urged people to be vigilant and consider extra security measures including alarms, lighting and CCTV and parking vehicles to make access to catalytic converters more difficult. 

The National Police Chiefs Council said it was working with manufacturers and the Home Office to ensure that “legislation is fit for purpose”, alongside new measures such as the introduction by Toyota of a scheme to retrospectively mark catalytic converters so they can be matched to individual vehicles.

PC Vicky Bailey

PC Vicky Bailey. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

PC Vicky Bailey, of Norfolk Constabulary said: “The premium metals contained within catalytic converters can be of particular value to thieves. 

“We’re investigating a number of reports and are working to establish whether any of these instances are linked, but in the meantime we would urge people to get in touch if they have any information that could help in our investigations.”

Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity or those with information related to catalytic converter theft should contact Norfolk Constabulary on 101, or call 999 if you believe a crime is in progress. 

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers 100pc anonymously on 0800 555111.

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