Organised crime gangs are stealing lucrative catalytic converters for sale abroad with huge profits from the theft which takes just seconds to commit.

The gangs are cashing in on a boom in the global precious metal prices: platinum, palladium and rhodium — which are all contained in the converters.

An eye witness reported to police on July 21 at mid-day seeing a three men in a small white work van jack up a car in Ingram Road. They used an angle grinder to remove the catalytic convertor which unscrupulous scrap dealers are paying £200 a time for.

Croydon police launched Operation Basswood to target the thieves who strike in broad daylight in supermarket and hospital car parks as well as in front of people’s homes with some owners suffering multiple thefts and bills of £1,000. Thefts are widespread with Toyota Prius and Auris. easy targets along with SUVs and vans.

One Thornton Heath resident who has been a victim of the theft twice, the latest on July 18, appealed to local councillors to intervene asking trading standards and or local police to visit scrap yards to investigate, adding: “If we stop the trade, we stop the thefts.”

Cllr Alison Butler responded: “I have looked into the issue you raised. I was advised that some metal does not see UK scrap yards as it is exported out of the UK before processing.”

She said of nine licensed scrap metal sites in the borough three were visited as part of a joint operation but that there was no evidence to show they were implicated. 

The police advice to motorists is: ask your car dealer if they can give you any suggestions on locks or guards; register your converter and mark it with a forensic marker, which will make it harder for thieves to dispose of. For more information visit: 

If you have photos of the perpertrators: email Operationbasswood@met.