The Rising Tide Of Cat Crimes

Tue 25th Aug 2020

A major BBC investigation has uncovered a significant rise in the theft of catalytic converters from stationary petrol vehicles.

Figures released by police forces across England and Wales show that while there 2,000 ‘cat’ thefts in 2018, that number had risen more than six-fold by 2019, with almost 13,000 recorded thefts.

The BBC 5 Live team uncovered evidence that NHS staff are particularly vulnerable to the thefts, with hospital car parks, often located in dark and insecure areas, under attack from the brazen thiefs.

Catalytic convertors are particularly valuable due to the presence of three valuable metals within them, the price of rhodium, platinum and palladium all increasing in value over the last 18 months. In some markets the price of palladium in particular is worth more per gram than gold.

In 2013 new legislation was passed under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, which was intended to regulate and inspect licensed dealers. But the BBC’s investigation found that very few dealers had been investigated, and even fewer closed down.

"Councils are targeting their limited resources as efficiently as possible and can take enforcement action where issues are identified," Nesil Caliskan of the Local Government Association told the BBC

"Councils have limited powers to tackle unlicensed operators and the LGA has called on government to introduce greater enforcement powers to help local authorities tackle rogue operators."