Fresh wave of catalytic converter thefts

No response from police

Tuesday, 14th September 2021 — By Dan Carrier

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Sound producer Ivan Sharrock’s car was stripped of its catalytic converter

THIEVES are targeting cars throughout Kentish Town – to steal valuable pollution-busting ­catal­ytic converters.

The vital piece of exhaust kit contains precious metals, and gangs are cruising the area at night to find cars with the device.

Once identified, the thieves can remove the piece of kit in around 10 minutes. The problem can be traced back over two years but the New Journal has learned that 14 converter thefts have taken place in the past fortnight in and around the Highgate Road area alone.

The converters include platinum, palladium and rhodium, which fetch high prices on the metals markets.

For the victim, the cost of replacing a stolen catalytic convertor can mean the car is written off by their insurance firm.

Ivan Sharrock, a celebrated sound producer on top Hollywood films including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Da Vinci Code, The English Patient and Gangs of New York, lives in Kentish Town.

He saw his BMW targeted at the end of August.

He said: “There have been a number of thefts of BMW CCs in the area recently. Mine was cut out, and I discovered it had been taken when I started it up and it sounded like a tractor.”

The following day, after reporting the theft, Mr Sharrock heard another car being started in his street making the same tell-tale, throaty noise.

He said: “I heard a ‘tractor’ start up and it was another  BMW in my street. They had parked in a pay-and-display bay area and had their convertor nicked overnight. A neighbour saw two guys with a double-parked black car alongside the BMW at 11pm the previous night.”

He added that he had heard of a number of similar incidents in the neighbourhood over the same period.

Liam O’Regan, a mechanic at Dar Cars garage in Highgate Road, says they have seen a significant rise in customers who have had their convertors stolen.

He said: “It is a common problem and has got worse. We have a steady flow of people coming in with this issue. Thieves look for genuine parts they can sell on, and they have a tier system.

“They prefer to target Japanese cars, as the convertors contain the highest level of precious metals – but it does not exclude them going for other makes as well. They tend to be opportunists, and can remove the convertor very quickly.”

He added that car owners were now buying kits to bolt on to the exhaust to make it harder to remove.

He said: “The gangs don’t want anything that looks like hard work. The kits makes it not worth the thieves’ time.”

For Mr Sharrock, the theft has meant his car, made in 2008, could have to be scrapped. He said: “Mine is going to cost around £2,000 to replace as it is only made by BMW and is a one-piece exhaust system. “My insurance company is talking of writing it off as its scrap value is only £1,800, although I bought it in July for £3,500.”

The New Journal contacted the police to ask what was being to done to investigate the thefts and how they could be stopped but no comment was given. Advice has previously included parking in well-lit areas, parking close to walls and fences, and fitting sensors.

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