Police across the country joined forces with other agencies as part of Operation Goldiron, in a bid to tackle catalytic converter theft in a week of action.
A total of 1,037 stolen catalytic converters and 297 items of stolen property were recovered between April 19 and April 23. Officers made 56 arrests, stopped 664 vehicles, identified 244 offences and visited 926 sites, including catalytic converter process plants, scrap metal dealers, vehicle dismantles and catalytic converter buyers.
British Transport Police (BTP) coordinated Operation Goldiron, which saw police forces join experts from the Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC), led by the Environment Agency, Smartwater Group, and motor industry, to carry out synchronised enforcement action, intelligence-led site visits, forensic marking and educational events.
Catalytic converters clean harmful gases before they exit a vehicle's exhaust pipe and are stolen for the precious metal they contain. These metals have surged in value recently, leading to organised crime networks to commit more offences.
National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Metal Crime, BTP Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Doyle, said: “The positive results from this week 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.
During these visits and checks, officers searched for stolen metal and examined trader’s financial records to ensure they were complying with the 2013 Scrap Metal Dealers Act. The JUWC coordinated a series of waste site inspections to ensure businesses held environmental permits and met other legal requirements.
National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Vehicle Crime, Cheshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Simms, said: “We recognise the impact catalytic converter theft has on victims. A national conference took place in November last year to create a cross-agency plan focused on prevention and detection and this is the second week of action that has taken place since.
“Policing and law enforcement agencies will continue to focus on catalytic converter theft and ensure that this low risk/ high-reward crime is relentlessly targeted, and offenders are brought to justice. The results from this week are impressive.”
Three out of Yorkshire's four police forces have reported a rise in the number of catalytic converter thefts in 2021 with "higher prices for precious metals" the lure, The Yorkshire Post previously revealed.North Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police have all issued warnings to residents following reported rises.
North Yorkshire Police fear rises in metal prices could lead to upsurge in thefts of catalytic converters and other metal.
Reports of catalytic converter theft should be made as soon as possible to increase the chances of detection.