More than a thousand stolen catalytic converters recovered by ‘Operation Goldiron’

More than a thousand stolen catalytic converters recovered by ‘Operation Goldiron’
Police have recovered more than 1,000 stolen catalytic converters and arrested more than 50 criminals in a UK-wide crackdown on theft of the exhaust emission control devices, which was conducted with a number of partner agencies.

British Transport Police (BTP) coordinated the operation – codenamed Goldiron – while police forces teamed up with the Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC), led by the Environment Agency, Smartwater Group and the motor industry.

They carried out synchronised enforcement action, intelligence-led site visits, forensic marking and educational events. 

A total of 1,037 stolen catalytic converters and 297 items of stolen property were retrieved between 19 and 23 April 2021.

The officers and agencies also made 56 arrests, stopped 664 vehicles, and identified 244 offences throughout the week of action.

The 926 sites visited included catalytic converter process plants, scrap metal dealers, vehicle dismantlers and catalytic converter buyers.

Catalytic converters are stolen for the precious metals they contain that help to reduce harmful emissions escaping from exhausts. A recent surge in these metals’ value has led to a rise in organised crime offences, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

NPCC 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.

“By taking a multi-agency approach, we are maximising our ability to identify those who are involved in catalytic converter theft, making it harder for them to sell stolen metal and gain from their criminal activities.”

During the operation, officers searched for stolen metal and examined traders’ financial records to check they were complying with the 2013 Scrap Metal Dealers Act. 

This details regulations dealers must adhere to, such as that no person can carry on business as a scrap metal dealer unless authorised by a licence under the Act.

Meanwhile, the JUWC coordinated waste site inspections to ensure businesses had environmental permits and met other legal requirements.

Catalytic converter marking demonstrations were also held as part of the operation, to encourage drivers to protect their vehicles. More than 1,610 were forensically marked by officers and partner agencies.

The operation follows a warning from the RAC and Ageas Insurance that motorists should protect their vehicles as lockdown has seen an uptick in criminals stealing catalytic converters from parked cars.

Ageas Insurance recorded a rise in theft of the devices since the start of the first lockdown more than a year ago, with this type of crime now accounting for three-in 10 of all theft claims reported, compared to around one-in-five before lockdown.

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