Police have recovered more than 1,000 stolen catalytic converters and arrested more than 50 criminals in a UK-wide crackdown on theft of the exhaust emission control devices.
British Transport Police (BTP) coordinated the operation – codenamed Goldiron – while police forces teamed up with Environment Agency JUWC, Smartwater Group, and the motor industry.
A total of 1,037 stolen catalytic converters and 297 items of stolen property were retrieved between 19 and 23 April 2021.
The officers and agencies stopped 664 vehicles, identified 244 offences, and made 56 arrests throughout the week of action.
The joint taskforce visited 926 sites, including catalytic converter process plants, scrap metal dealers, vehicle dismantlers and catalytic converter buyers.
Catalytic converters are stolen for the precious metals they contain that help to reduce harmful emissions escaping from exhausts. A recent surge in these metals’ value has led to a rise in organised crime offences, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Doyle said: “The positive results are testament to why it’s vital we join forces to share information and specialist knowledge to disrupt those operating in this area of crime.
By taking a multi-agency approach, we are maximising our ability to identify those who are involved in catalytic converter theft, making it harder for them to sell stolen metal and gain from their criminal activities.”
The JUWC coordinated waste site inspections to ensure businesses had environmental permits and met other legal requirements.
Catalytic converter marking demonstrations were also held as part of the operation. More than 1,610 were forensically marked by officers and partner agencies.
Ageas Insurance recorded a rise in catalytic converter theft since the start of the first lockdown, with this type of crime now accounting for three-in-ten of all theft claims reported, compared to around one-in-five before lockdown.