Gang armed with baseball bats stealing catalytic converters

Gang armed with baseball bats stealing catalytic converters

CCTV captures gang armed with baseball bats stealing catalytic converters from SIX cars in one road in overnight crime spree

  • Three men were caught stealing the catalytic converters from six parked cars
  • Gang caught on CCTV footage on street in Small Heath, Birmingham, on June 21  
  • One of the victim’s said it would cost him £700 to replace his catalytic converter 

This is the shocking moment a gang of brazen thieves were caught stealing catalytic converters from six cars in one street. 

CCTV footage shows the three men, who were armed with baseball bats, approach one of the parked cars on a street in Small Heath, Birmingham, before using a lever to jack up the vehicle at around 4am on June 21.

Two members of the gang then slide underneath the car and remove the catalytic converter before fleeing the scene in their car.

Six cars were said to have had their catalytic converters removed on June 21. 

One of the victim’s, father-of-three Kaptan Khan, whose wife is currently recovering from Covid-19 in hospital, said he would was now left with a £700 bill to replace the catalytic converter on his car. 

The gang of brazen thieves approach a parked car on a street in Small Heath, Birmingham, at 4am on June 21

The men emerge from the cars carrying bats in their hands before going on the steal the catalytic converters

The 39-year-old taxi driver said: ‘The police knocked my door but I was asleep at the time. Then another victim called me and said that his car had been targeted and they had stolen the catalytic converter off my car.

‘I was shocked, this hurts me. I am already stressed and anxious. My wife is recovering from Covid in ICU and I’m not working. 

‘I’m asking my friends for lifts to the hospital so I can drop clothes, water off etc. My son also goes to hospital.

‘I will have to pay £700 for a catalytic converter plus the mechanic’s charge and the cover for it, so it is nearly £900. The insurance said I have to pay £500 excess if I want to do it through the insurance.

‘The people who did this should feel ashamed.’ 

Another victim, aged in his 40s, said: ‘They targeted two cars of mine, both Toyota Auris Hybrids. 

‘One of neighbours rang me and told me that someone was jacking up my car and by the time I got outside they were gone. 

‘Around five or six cars were targeted in one night. I rang the Toyota dealer who said it will cost £1,200 to replace the catalytic converter, £250 for the protection cage and there is a three week waiting list to replace it.’ 

The men, who were armed with baseball bats, use a lever to jack up the parked vehicle

Two of the men slide underneath the car while a third person prowls the area and keeps watch while clutching the baseball bat

The men remove the catalytic converter from the vehicle before getting back into theri car and fleeing the scene 

How to avoid becoming a victim of catalytic converter theft 

  • Keep your vehicle in a garage or secure area if you have one 
  • Alarms, lighting and CCTV help to deter thieves 
  • Buy a protection device for you catalytic converter 
  • Set your dash cam to detect movement 
  • Park with your exhaust close to a fence, wall or kerb to make it difficult for thieves  
  • Avoid parking half on the pavement and half on the road as this makes it easier for thieves 
  • If parking in a car park try to park alongside other cars 
  • Mark your catalytic converter with your car’s serial number – this makes it harder for thieves to sell it on and means it can be tracked back to your vehicle if police seize it 
  • Keep an eye out for people acting suspiciously (especially if they are under a vehicle) and report it by calling 999

He added: ‘Even though they had bats, I would have jumped on them to protect my valuables. ‘We work so hard and it’s not for robbers to come and take it. There’s no help from anyone nowadays.’ 

During the clip, two of the men jack up a red car on the street while an accomplice  prowls the area with a baseball bat over his shoulder.   

The thug keeps watch while his accomplices steals the converter before they all jump back into their getaway car and drive off. 

A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: ‘We are investigating after receiving multiple reports of catalytic converter thefts on St Benedicts Road, Small Heath, during the early hours of Monday (21 June). 

‘The thefts are believed to have taken place between 3am and 4am and we are urging anyone who may have seen anything suspicious or has doorbell footage to please get in touch via Live Chat on our website or call 101 quoting log 352 of 21 June.’ 

The incident in Birmingham is just one in a rising tide of incidents as thieves target the exhaust devices for the valuable metals – platinum, palladium and rhodium – they contain, with the Toyota Prius among the most targeted models.

Last year figures released from 25 UK forces revealed that the police had investigated at least 21,000 incidents of catalytic converter thefts in 2020 – a rise from the 13,000 recorded thefts reported the year before.

The highest number of cases were in London, which saw 14,684 incidents of catalytic converter thefts, while the West Midlands saw 1,623 cases.

Catalytic converters, which clean harmful gases before they exit a vehicle’s exhaust pipe, are more valuable in hybrid cars because they often contain higher concentrations of precious metals and are generally less corroded.

These metals — platinum, palladium and rhodium — are used in converters to capture noxious gases as they flow through a vehicle’s exhaust system.

Once stolen, the converters are offered to unscrupulous scrap-metal dealers or can be sold online for £200 or more a time.

They are then dismantled and the extracted metals sold in powder form to refineries around the world for recycling.

Alternatively, stolen converters can be sold on the online second-hand market, which can be an attractive option for some motorists as a new one can cost up to £1,000.  

Catalytic converter thefts soar due to rocketing value of precious metals they contain 

By Rebecca Camber, Crime and Security Editor for the Daily Mail

Thefts of catalytic converters have more than doubled in the last year due to the rocketing value of precious metals.

Some police forces have seen them rise by more than 400 per cent, with organised gangs targeting dozens of cars a day.

Between 2019 and 2020, thefts across England, Wales and Northern Ireland rose by 104 per cent on average, figures from 25 forces obtained by Which? show.

Rare metals found in catalytic converters are more valuable than gold and can be easily sold on.

A single converter, which cleans harmful gases before they exit an exhaust pipe, can fetch as much as £400

So a single converter, which cleans harmful gases before they exit an exhaust pipe, can fetch as much as £400.

Cheshire Police’s assistant chief constable Jenny Simms said: ‘We recognise the impact [of this] on victims. Policing and law enforcement agencies will continue to ensure that this low-risk/high-reward crime is targeted and offenders are brought to justice.’

Figures from 25 forces show that North Wales Police saw the largest increase, from 9 thefts in 2019 to 46 in 2020- a rise of 411 per cent.

Merseyside Police recorded a 295 per cent increase, from 20 stolen in 2019 to 79 last year.

Rural forces such as Norfolk and Suffolk also saw more than a 250 per cent increase in reports.

In April, a national police crackdown led to more than 1,000 stolen catalytic converters being recovered.

Over a week, a joint operation saw officers made 56 arrests, recover 1,037 stolen catalytic converters and 297 items of stolen property.

The previous generation of the Toyota Prius and Auris, and the Honda Jazz hybrid models are particularly at risk due to their higher concentration of precious metals, as first revealed by This is Money in November.

Last month a masked gang wielding baseball bats were captured on CCTV dancing in delight in Longsight, Greater Manchester, as they ripped the part from underneath a Toyota Prius belonging to foster carers of a disabled child.

Motorists are facing eye-watering repair costs, soaring premiums or even complete write-offs, according to the consumer group Which.

Insurance group Admiral recently warned of a 57 per cent increase in catalytic converter claims in March this year compared to the same month last year.

Hybrid cars are ripe for thieves as the catalytic converters contain a higher concentration of precious metals and are generally less corroded

The average cost of a claim for damage is now more than £1,500, it said.

The AA has also seen a surge in breakdowns due to the crime.

The number of breakdowns it attended due to stolen catalytic converters rose from just 58 in 2017 to 3,910 in 2020.

There are some measures drivers can take to protect their vehicles, such as contacting the manufacturer to retrofit a ‘catlock’ – a protective cage that makes it harder for thieves to get the catalytic converter off.

The parts can also be marked with a serial number for identification.

Some of the stolen parts are being openly traded online.

Which? found advertisements offering cash for scrap catalytic converters on Facebook Marketplace, despite this being made an offence under the 2013 Scrap Metal Dealers Act.

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