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Warning to drivers after broad daylight catalytic converter theft in East Ham

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 January 2019

A masked man stole a Toyota Prius's catalytic converter in Grangewood Street, East Ham in broad daylight. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

A masked man stole a Toyota Prius's catalytic converter in Grangewood Street, East Ham in broad daylight. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Archant

Drivers have been warned to be on the lookout after a masked man stole a catalytic converter in broad daylight.

A video posted on social media shows the man cut the device after jacking up a red Toyota Prius in Grangewood Street, East Ham at about 11.10am on January 10.

He can then be seen throwing the converter and jack into the back of a black car before waving a metal object at waiting drivers then making off.

Antonia Grey, public affairs manager at the British Metals Recycling Association, said: “It really is shocking. There’s no fear of discovery or enforcement and that’s because everyone knows police services are so stretched.”

A Met Police spokeswoman said: “Officers have spoken to the victim. No arrests have been made.”

The suspect is described as a white man wearing a black cap, dark blue hoodie and dark trousers.

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Thefts of catalytic converters aren’t new, police said, with thieves stealing the devices to sell them for their precious metals, some of which are worth more or almost the same as gold.

This includes rhodium which can fetch more than £2,000 an ounce.

Ms Grey said some dealers were paying cash for scrap metal in spite of it being banned under a law introduced in 2013.

“The law isn’t being enforced. Local authorities and police forces don’t have the budgets so catalytic converter theft is happening unchecked.

“It will only increase because of the lack of enforcement,” Ms Grey warned.

A spokesman for the AA said: “It’s a fairly specialist crime which means you knock out the problem locally if the person doing it is caught.”

He added that vigilant communities were needed: “It’s one particular crime you can fight against if neighbours look out for each other.”

The Met has logged 900 catalytic converter thefts from a number of different car models since July last year.

“We believe a number of the cases are linked and are focusing resources on identifying the suspects,” the Met spokeswoman said.

Etching converters with a serial number and getting bolts welded shut are among the measures police advise to help protect vehicles.

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