OVER 1,000 catalytic converter thefts were recorded in the Avon and Somerset policing area last year, a freedom of information request has found.

Catalytic converter theft has risen across the country, with drivers urged to report suspicious behaviour to help officers detain offenders. 

Data obtained by Sky News shows there have been nearly 100,000 catalytic converter thefts recorded in three years across the UK – around 75 per day.

In total, 28,000 catalytic coverters were stolen in 12 months from December 2021.

In Avon and Somerset, police recorded 1,100 thefts last year, which works out at 150.55 thefts per 100,000 households. 

The force's policing area covers Bath, Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The data does not give a further breakdown by districts.

London had the highest rate of thefts in the country (298.87 per 100,000 households), followed by Bedfordshire (213.14), Cambridgeshire (196.76), Hertfordshire (173.26) and Leicestershire (170.69).

Catalytic converters reduce harmful pollutants emitted from vehicle exhausts. 

They contains several precious metals, including platinum, palladium and rhodium, which mean they can be worth up to £600 on the black market.

Thieves can cut the catalytic converter off the exhaust pipe of a parked car in under a minute and sell them to scrap metal dealers.

Tall vehicles can be more vulnerable because their converters are more accessible, while some car models (including the Honda Jazz, Honda Accord, Toyota Prius and Toyota Auris) are regularly targeted.

Avon and Somerset Police are carrying out street patrols and working with other forces and scrap metal dealers to tackle the problem.

Detective Inspector Angela Burtonwood said: “Police forces across the country in recent years have experienced an increased number of reports from victims who have had catalytic converters stolen from their vehicles.

“We fully appreciate the impact this crime has on victims can be substantial, both financially and by not making the vehicle road legal.

“In addition to having officers patrolling the streets, we work with other police forces to try to identify offenders, as well as with scrap metal dealers who may be approached by those responsible seeking to sell the converters.

“These thefts can be carried out in a matter of a few minutes, so we would please ask anyone who sees any individual or individuals acting suspiciously near a vehicle to please call the police straight away.

“Doing so gives us the best opportunity to detain these offenders straight away. Suspicious behaviour includes people trying to avoid being seen jacking a car up.”

Police have shared advice issued by Crimestoppers to help drivers deter thieves. To reduce the risk of theft, drivers should:

  • Park in a locked garage or a well-lit area;
  • Avoid parking legally on the pavement with two wheels if possible as that makes the underneath of the car more accessible;
  • Consider motion-detected lighting or potentially surveillance cameras in accordance with necessary regulations;
  • Purchase a guard to cover catalytic converters or ask garage to weld bolts;
  • Make note of catalytic converter serial number on your car.