Thieves are cashing in on lucrative prices and stripping cars of catalytic converters, reversing a decline in the number of metal thefts.
Catalytic converter theft reached a peak six years ago, leading to the introduction of new laws making it illegal to buy scrap metal for cash, but police are warning that that the number of thefts are now back on the rise as metal prices jump to new highs.
Earlier this month a gang stole the catalytic converter from Honda Jazz in Tooting, south London in broad daylight and in front of neighbours who thought the criminals were garage mechanics.
Police have advised etching security details into the converters, installing extra bolts or protective sleeves to make them harder to cut out and “defensive parking” against a wall or by another lower-slung vehicle to make it more difficult to reach under.
Ian Crowder, of the AA, said it was rural as well as urban as gangs often targeted county shows where hundreds of vehicles were parked for long periods.
He said: “It’s not an amateur job to recover precious metals as they are toxic and you need various chemical treatments to extract them.
“They are done by factories particularly overseas.
“When sufficient are collected, they will put them in a container and ship them off.”
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