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Catalytic converter thefts drop on back of major police operation

Reports of catalytic converter thefts across the UK have dropped by 57% after police across the UK joined forces to tackle the crime wave.

Reports of catalytic converter thefts across the UK have dropped by 57% on the back of the multi-agency campaign

New data from the British Transport Police (BTP) reveals that catalytic converter thefts peaked in March 2021, with 3,245 recorded in the UK that month. The increase came on the back of a surge in the price of precious metals used in catalytic converters.

But thefts have steadily declined since, with 1,378 recorded in July.

The fall follows a multi-agency police operation coordinated in April by BTP and taking action on several fronts, including direct action to clamp down on criminals; during the campaign week, more than a thousand stolen catalytic converters were recovered and over 50 people were arrested.

The campaign also made use of the SmartWater solution, which is used to forensically mark catalytic converters and means that SmartWater scientists can identify the vehicle it came from with just a fragment of the solution. Over the campaign week, more than a thousand vehicles were forensically marked by officers and partner agencies.

In addition, a national asset database was created to register catalytic converters, allowing police to identify whether recovered catalytic converters are stolen.
Jenny Simms, the National Police Chiefs’ council lead for vehicle crime and Cheshire Police assistant chief constable, said: “It’s pleasing to see that we are already seeing positive results from this multi-agency operation, however we know that there is still a long way to go.

“Policing and law enforcement agencies will continue to work with manufacturers and other partners to focus on catalytic converter theft and ensure that this crime, perceived as low-risk/high-reward, is relentlessly targeted, and offenders are brought to justice.”

SmartWater will also shortly open a national network of registration centres for car owners to register their catalytic converters for a small fee.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.