Nearly 13,000 catalytic converters have been stolen from vehicle exhaust systems since 2013, new figures obtained by The Times in a Freedom of Information investigation show.
Targeted for the precious metal contained within them, criminals are reported to be jacking up cars on the roadside to remove the catalytic converters.
In December, police warned thieves were using high-powered hydraulic equipment to raise cars off the ground in broad daylight and steal their catalytic converters.
One incident saw several cars targeted in a supermarket car park in south-east London within the space of a few minutes.
“Laws no longer being enforced”
Antonia Grey, public affairs manager at the British Metals Recycling Association, told The Times that cuts to council and police budgets mean laws introduced in 2013 to crack down on metal theft are “no longer being enforced”.
The laws made it illegal for metal recyclers to pay cash for scrap and required sellers to produce identity documents.
Grey said: “Illegal operators are so unconcerned that they are openly advertising cash for scrap and many of them will no longer have the required scrap metal dealer licence.
“It is highly likely that people stealing catalytic converters will head to these cash-paying yards rather than legitimate sites.”
The AA warned that large 4×4 SUVs are the most at risk of having their catalytic converters stolen because they are higher from the ground, making it easier for thieves to get underneath the car.
Share your comments below.