People think catalytic converter theft is a victimless crime but for one single mum-of-two it has been the last straw leaving her feeling unsafe and wanting to move.

Jo Pickering discovered her catalytic convertor was missing from her Honda Civic when she attempted to use the car to collect her children from school on March 26 but because it is a first generation hybrid and older a replacement part is rare costing £2,000. When she put in the claim to her insurance company they instead wrote the car off.

Jo said: “I thought this was a terrible waste since the car’s mileage is relatively low. It’s a lovely drive, and the thought of it being scrapped made me rather sad and angry. Hence I negotiated to buy it back from the insurance company. 

“I found an identical car, took its cat and had to scrap it after. This was very expensive and I am, of course, out of pocket. I did manage to get it fixed just in time to compete our long-planned visit to see my mother on April 13th after the lockdown restrictions eased, so I have no regrets, but I haven’t been able to buy the birthday present I had planned for my youngest son’s birthday in May.”

She added: “I also found it upsetting to be targeted in this way after having two bikes stolen in the summer. Aside form the thwarted plans, I don’t feel safe where I live anymore. 

“Every night when I hear a noise in the middle of the night, I wake up, worry, and then have to go and check on the car, because I’m concerned that someone will come and do it again. 

“I was up and outside at 3am last night after hearing a bang. I’m really sad to say that since this, I have had three estate agency valuations of my flat and am about to put it on the market. 

“It’s such a rubbish crime, that I find it especially depressing. These are organised and coordinated gangs, prepared to go struggling underneath cars at 4am, who would surely be capable of holding down a legitimate job. 

“They make a bit of money from the cats and cars are senselessly ruined. I’d rather they had stolen the whole car, honestly.”

Thieves steal the cats for the precious metals inside them, which prevent exhaust fumes, but can sell for hundreds of pounds and are sent oversees.

Across London the number of catalytic converter thefts rose by 50 per cent to 14,500 last year with Croydon worst hit.

Last month more than 300 officers took part in raids as part of Operation Basswood which targets the crime. Croydon officers led a pan-London and South East region crime operation targeting thieves with 20 premises searched, four arrests made along with the seizure of cash, vehicles and 33 catalytic converters were recovered.