Two arrested in police crackdown on rising catalytic converter thefts

Two people have been charged with trying to steal a catalytic converter from a car.

Catalytic converters found at scrap metal dealerships Photo: WMP
Catalytic converters found at scrap metal dealerships Photo: WMP

David Matei, aged 28, of Mossfield Road, Birmingham and a 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were both charged with theft from a motor vehicle and will be appearing at Birmingham Magistrates Court on May 6.

It comes after police were called to Matlock Road, Tyseley, Birmingham, on April 23.

Nationwide, police forces have recorded a sharp increase in catalytic converter thefts.

As part of West Midlands Police's efforts to tackle the rise, the force joined Operation Goldiron, a multi-agency week of action carried out across the country.

The operation, which was set up in direct response to rising catalytic converter thefts, was led by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and coordinated by British Transport Police (BTP) and the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN).

In Dudley, officers attended a scrap metal dealer where they seized 33 catalytic converters and nine evidence bags of broken down catalytic converters.

Evidence bags of broken down catalytic converters found by officers in Dudley Photo: WMP

The devices are broken down by criminals to access the precious metals inside, including palladium, rhodium and platinum. Demand for these materials has intensified due to the pandemic's impact on mining and the economic toll of lockdown, increasing the value of the metals.

As well as targeting rogue dealers, officers in Dudley sent information out to the local communities to raise awareness of the issue and upped patrols around the area.

In Wolverhampton, officers visited 12 local scrap yard sites throughout the week to ensure they were licensed and not involved with criminal activity.

Police teams and PCSOs continued to patrol around New Cross Hospital, Bilston car parks and city centre car parks, where thieves target vehicles which they know will be left for a long period of time.

Detective Superintendent Scott Griffiths, force lead for Operation Goldiron, said: “This is an expensive and inconvenient crime, which can result in thousands of pounds worth of damage in replacement parts for the victim. We are taking this growing problem very seriously and are determined to help stop this crime surge.

“We intensified our efforts to tackle catalytic converter thefts during the national week of action, targeting groups who we suspect are behind a large number of these thefts and working with partner agencies and police forces across the UK to tackle criminal activity.

“But our efforts do not stop there. During the week, we gained valuable intelligence that will help us combat the issues going forward. We also continue to gather intel on locations and suspects involved in the handling of stolen catalytic converters and chop shops.

“Additionally, we are helping the national roll-out of forensic marking of catalytic converters, making it more difficult for thieves to sell the devices on.”

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