Barnet the worst hit for catalytic converter thefts

Catalytic converters found during Met Police raids

Catalytic converters found during Met Police raids - Credit: Met Police

A rise in the theft of catalytic converters from cars has left victims with hefty repair costs, with Barnet hit particularly hard. 

Police this week raided properties across east London, Kent and at the Essex coast, in an operation targeting a network they say is fueling an increase in thefts. 

Catalytic converters, which reduce a car’s toxic emissions, contain precious metals such as platinum, rhodium and palladium, which can be sold on the scrap metal market. 

Recent data shows that Barnet had the highest number of catalytic converter thefts in London – 1,114 between 2019 and 2020. In the same period, 233 were reported in Camden and 446 in Haringey.

A catalytic converter was stolen from Sunali Seth's car parked while it was parked outside her Golders Green house. 

Seth said: “I spent the weekend organising insurance and repairs, and I just feel so helpless as it can happen again. I use my car very sparingly and now my no-claims is affected.”

Steve Stylianou, the owner of Ridge Garage in Childs Hill, said: “There’s definitely been an increase in the theft, especially around here.

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“It takes less than five minutes to grind off the exhaust, pop it in a car and drive off. They do 10 a day – they make good money."

Aiden Rooney of Hampstead Motor Services told the Ham&High that a replacement catalytic converter costs “at least £600 pounds at the lower end but they can be up to £1,200”. 

He said: “It’s a big repair. And you often have to get a new sensor as well because they’ll just tear the wire out, which is another couple hundred pounds.” 

Once labour is factored in, many victims find themselves shelling out over £1,000. 

More than 300 police officers took part in dawn raids on Tuesday (March 23), targeting a criminal network alleged to be fueling the increase in catalytic converter thefts. 

Police say they seized a large number of catalytic converters, stolen vehicles, and vehicles with falsified license plates. 

Cash, drugs and tools used to steal the devices were also found, and three men were arrested. 

Detective Chief Inspector James Stanyer, the Met’s 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.”