Drivers warned of rise in catalytic converter thefts going unsolved
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New data from the Liberal Democrats have found that only one percent of all cases where a catalytic converter has been stolen from a vehicle get resolved by the police. Thousands of catalytic converters are taken every year, but data from 20 police forces in England and Wales between 2017 and 2021 indicated that only 548 suspects were charged.
The data, which was obtained from a Freedom of Information request, found that 50,233 thefts were reported during the five-year period.
Catalytic converters can be removed by thieves in under a minute, with thieves often striking in public areas during the night.
They can then be sold to scrapyards, online or shipped abroad, with the Lib Dems calling for police forces to “properly investigate”.
Sarah Olney MP, said: “There is a catalytic converter theft epidemic across many parts of the country, but far too often the gangs responsible are getting away with it.”
Hybrid vehicles are usually targeted by thieves as their metals are more valuable, although any vehicle is at risk of catalytic converter theft.
Catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise for a number of years, accounting for around 10 percent of car insurance thefts since 2016.
However, the car part hit a record high last year, accounting for 20 percent of all car insurance theft claims, and has remained a substantial problem in the first half of 2022.
The cost of replacing a catalytic converter is put at between £150 and £800, depending on the type of car and the complexity of the job.
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Simon Williams, insurance spokesperson for the RAC, said that thieves were increasingly exploiting catalytic converters in the Midlands.
He added: “It’s concerning to see just how unlikely it is for perpetrators to be brought to justice and reinforces why drivers need to do everything they can to avoid becoming victims in the first place.
“When at home, anyone with a lockable garage should park their car in it. But how a driver parks their car can also make a difference to how likely they are to have the catalytic converter stolen.
“Drivers can also contact their car’s manufacturer to see if they offer a free catalytic converter marking service, which can help the police if they’re able to recover the part.”
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Earlier this year, a new national initiative was launched to prevent, deter and detect catalytic converter theft.
Drivers are now able to have their catalytic converters marked with a unique, invisible and unremovable solution that has been proven to deter thieves and help police identify stolen property.
The introduction of the scheme follows the success of an initiative led by the Home Office-funded National Infrastructure Crime Reduction Partnership and supported by Toyota and SmartWater.
The project has achieved a 57 percent reduction in catalytic converter thefts.
The process is simple and can be carried out as an additional service to an MOT or regular vehicle servicing.
With the vehicle on the ramp, a special SmartWater high temperature product is applied directly to the catalytic converter and the unique formula reference number is logged on the database against the vehicle registration number.
This method is far more effective than the impression of serial numbers, which can be seen and easily removed by criminals, as the technology is invisible to the naked eye and only glows yellow under UV light.
The product is almost impossible to remove and any attempt results in thieves’ clothing, tools and location being contaminated with the incriminating evidence.
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