Organised criminals can remove catalytic converters from under a vehicle in a matter of minutes

Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as rhodium, platinum, and palladium which ‘clean’ exhaust gases. The sharp rise in the value of these metals over recent years has driven up the rate of catalytic converter theft. Palladium is currently more valuable than gold, meaning that a catalytic converter can sell for more than £500 on the black market.

If you have information on those behind catalytic converter theft, contact Crimestoppers  100% anonymously.

Catalytic converter theft is a crime and leaves drivers with an average replacement bill of £1,300. In some cases, the vehicle may even be written off by the damage caused by thieves sawing converters from the exhaust. This crime can also cause immense stress and anxiety to victims, with some drivers being repeatedly targeted. 

If you are approached to buy catalytic converters which you suspect may be stolen, you can contact us 100% anonymously to tell us what you know. 


We don’t need to know your name, just as much information as you can give us, such as the whereabouts of the criminals and who they are selling the metal to. Under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act of 2013, dealers must verify the name and address of the supplier and record a receipt of the exchange and must not pay cash for scrap metal.

Those selling stolen catalytic converters may :-

  • Want to be paid in cash and make no record of the transaction.
  • Refuse to provide proof of identity.
  • Refuse to disclose where the devices came from.

Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of your vehicle being targeted:

  • Avoid parking half on the pavement, half on the road, as this may provide thieves with easier access to the underside of your vehicle.
  • Park your vehicle in a locked garage whenever possible.
  • Try to park in busy, well-lit areas, or areas covered by CCTV.
  • Install an under-car alarm system.
  • Ask your garage to tell you your catalytic converter’s serial number and make a note of it.
  • Consider purchasing forensic liquid and using it to mark your catalytic converter.
  • Place a protective covering over your catalytic converter.
  • If you have a fleet of vehicles, try to restrict access to high ground clearance vehicles by blocking them with lower vehicles.
  • Driving without a catalytic converter is illegal, as your vehicle will produce emissions above the permitted standard, which means police can issue drivers with a fine of up to £1,000 if a catalytic converter is missing. 
  • You should be able to tell if your car’s catalytic converter has been stolen when starting up, as the exhaust will likely sound much louder.
  • On discovery of the theft, do not drive your car. Instead contact your local police station and your insurance provider to arrange a repair.

Officers around London have seized thousands of pounds worth of stolen vehicles, around fifty thousand pounds in cash and a quantity of drugs. Officers seized nine vehicles from the site in east London for using falsified license plates.

Officers also attended a metal processing plant in Hackney and discovered tens of catalytic converters believed to have been stolen from vehicles, as well as a smouldering machine. Police also found what they believe to be quantities of stolen metal, likely to have originated from railways and telecommunications masts.

On the Essex coast, police officers intercepted a shipping container believed to contain stolen metal and car parts, which was due to be shipped to the Ivory Coast to be processed and refined.

Det Chief Insp James Stanyer, lead officer for motor vehicle crime, said: “The criminals involved in stealing catalytic converters often commit their offences in full view of the owners of the vehicle and other members of the public, leaving them shocked and terrorised.

“Today’s operation is the culmination of a year-long investigation led by police officers from the Met’s Neighbourhood Policing teams, working with the British Transport Police, Kent and Essex Police, and the Government Agency Intelligence Network. “The intelligence gathered during this investigation will ultimately lead to more proactive work to prevent this crime and bring those involved in it to face the consequences of their actions.” He added: “The team has worked relentlessly to understand exactly how those we suspect to be involved in this crime operate and apply that knowledge to the Met’s longer-term strategies to combat criminals who commit catalytic converter theft. “Though we know that multiple models and brands of vehicles are targeted, we are delighted to learn that Toyota has now undertaken a national catalytic converter marking programme.

“This marking scheme, which the Met has worked closely with Toyota to bring to fruition, will workat the root of the problem to minimize the opportunity for crime. Marking catalytic converters can dramatically improve the likelihood of our ability to unite stolen parts with their rightful owners.

“Police will now conduct the evidence gathering process at the sites in order to build a profile demonstrating the scale of the criminal damage these people have caused and submit our findings to the Crown Prosecution Service.” A Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) (London) spokesman said: “Government agencies and law enforcement partners are committed to reducing the risk, threat and harm from serious and organised crime in London. “This operation has involved months of collaborative hard work by GAIN and the London Regional Intelligence Partnership (LRIP), who are dedicated to disrupting and dismantling criminal enterprises. “Today’s executive action is an excellent example of multiple agencies working together to have a long-term impact on the theft and international shipping of catalytic converters.”

Information shared with thanks via Colin Freeman’s Blog for Essex County Council NWA

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