Catalytic Converter: How the device helps reduce emissions
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The new trick involves going around and asking owners to covertly mark their catalytic converter which would allow scrap dealers to determine whether the part has been legitimately obtained or stolen. Robin Edwards, founder of ONIS Consulting who works with the British Transport Police and the National Police Chiefs Council on catalytic converter crime praised the new technique.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he confirmed police teams were able to mark over 1,600 catalytic converters in just one week of enforcement action.
He said: “At the moment you get a catalytic converter and it’s marked with a serial number.
“This does not link it to a specific car, it says this ‘cat’ is this and it’s worth X because this is the serial number on it.
“If we start forensically marking these covertly it’s going to make people think twice before they take them.
“If they turn up and they are then examined, questions are going to be asked.”
Earlier this month, Toyota confirmed they would spend more than £1million to secretly mark more than 100,000 devices on some of their older cars.
These will be issued free of charge when drivers arrive at Toyota dealerships for servicing and MOT checks.
However, they are also issuing 20,000 kits to police focus and are working with the AA so patrols can suggest kits to customers at breakdowns.
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Mr Edwards said the marking process could prevent the easy dale of stolen parts as scrap dealers can check to see if markings are in place.
He said the new system would make it “uncomfortable” for those involved in catalytic converter crime which could help deter thefts.
He said: “If you had a car and you had a catalytic converter on it are you likely to take that off? I would suggest you wouldn’t.
“If anything went wrong with your catalytic converter – which to be honest isn’t that often because the ones that come with manufacturers are designed to last the life of the car – you would take it to a specialist place to have it removed.
“So in terms of catalytic converter most of them bought will either come from cars that have been dismantled or garages or iter facilities where they have replaced them.
“The majority of ‘cats’ should come from those avenues.
“In terms of marking, if the cars are coming from a garage they would know it’s marked because the owner would tell them.”
He added: “The problem comes where the ones that are stolen are getting sold into [scrap metal] yards.
“I just don’t think the right questions are being asked and they are not being checked.
“Now they are being forensically marked, the scrap dealers or the Cat buyers who take these in will be able to check them and say ‘hang on a minute this is forensically marked’, where did you get it from.
“That’s when it starts to become uncomfortable for those involved in the theft of ‘cats’.”
The AA claimed the rise in catalytic converter thefts has become an “explosion” in recent months.
It confirmed patrols attended almost 4,000 cases of catalytic converter thefts last year alone.
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