Catalytic converter theft is a rapidly increasing crime, experienced by more and more Londoners - including right here in Bromley. In 2017, the Metropolitan Police recorded just 173 catalytic converter thefts, but by 2020 that figure had ballooned to more than 14,000 in 2020 and more than 10,000 recorded in 2021 – a huge increase from just a few years earlier.
Catalytic converters are stolen because they contain precious metals that can be sold on. They cost as much as £800 to replace – with all of us counting the cost through increased insurance premiums.
Lib Dem London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon has raised this issue a number of times, including through a question to the mayor last year which uncovered the extent of the growth in these thefts. She has called for crime prevention advice to be “stepped up” while “gangs who commit these crimes need to be tackled far more effectively.” Despite there having been more than 25,000 recorded incidents of catalytic converter theft between 2017 and 2020, only 42 people have been charged.
In Bromley, the Met reported that 465 catalytic converters thefts were recorded in 2021 and a number of residents have raised concerns to us having experienced the crime firsthand. The Lib Dems reached out to Bromley Police directly to raise these concerns and had a meeting to discuss the matter. The Bromley Town police team have advised that they are aware of residents’ concerns in relation to this issue and that local police teams are conducting patrols across the ward and viewing CCTV and doorbell footage (where available) to identify suspects. A new scheme for marking catalytic converters is also due to be implemented. Bromley Borough is also included in Operation Basilwood, an initiative to specifically target catalytic converter theft, using both proactive and reactive investigations with covert and overt policing methods. The Met is working closely with Bromley Police and other boroughs and neighboring county police forces to tackle the issue.
The Lib Dems strongly support the police in their efforts to crackdown on the criminals perpetrating this crime and urge residents to be alert to it and to report suspicious behaviour appropriately.
The Met advises car owners to fit their vehicles with locks or guards on catalytic converters, which can increase the time it takes to remove one. Car owners are also advised to park in a garage or driveway where possible, or in a well-lit street area. Marking catalytic converters with forensic markers such as smart water also makes it easier for thieves to be caught.