Watch the moment a catalytic converter is stolen from a car as number of thefts soar

  • Watch CCTV footage of two men stealing a catalytic converter in Bristol

It is a crime that can be carried out in less than 90 seconds and it is also on the rise.

Thefts of catalytic converters have more than doubled in the last two years, according to Avon and Somerset Police.

The car part, which is attached to the exhaust system, helps to produce cleaner emissions and contains precious metals, which have increased in value.

Joanne Dodd, from Yatton, had her car targeted just meters from her front door.

She said: "It was five to ten at night and the next thing was the door being banged down by the neighbours who had come out to disturb the people who had jacked up our car, used a saw to saw out its catalytic converter, and they were gone in seconds."

Joanne's car is just the latest targeted on her street. She says three cars had emissions devices stolen last year and it has had a big impact.

She added: "We've lost our car now for a week and a half, which as a family car, a busy family trying to get children to school, not least to say the excess of £400 at a time when cost of living is going up."

In 2020, police say there were 420 catalytic converter thefts in Avon and Somerset. Last year that number rose to nearly a thousand.

Since April this year alone there have already been nearly 600 thefts of this kind from cars.

  • Watch Ben McGrail's package here.

One insurer estimates around 40,000 were stolen in the UK in 2021 and the repairs can be pricey. Kevin Perry, a mechanic in Taunton says he regularly sees cars coming in after thefts.

"Depends how they've been taken. If they've been almost taken professionally, then it's not too much of a job to do. But we do see that for speed, you know, they tend to be just torn away very quickly, and that can cause a lot of damage. So, yeah, they can be expensive."

The crime is notoriously hard for the authorities to prosecute t.

Janet MacLeod found this out the hard way after her car was targeted at an airport car park elsewhere in the country.

"The policeman said that it's just so much work to prosecute them because they'd have had to follow the CCTV from when I drove in, follow it out of the airport to where it went, have it on it the whole time to see who stole it that they just said they don't have the resources to do that. They just can't follow everything."

The theft leaves people having to pay large excesses to fix their cars

So what can you do to prevent this from happening to you?

  • Park in a locked garage where possible or in a well-lit and well-populated area

  • Park in view of a CCTV camera

  • Park close to fences, walls or a kerb with the exhaust closest to make the theft more difficult

  • If in a public car park, park with your bonnet closest to the wall as it will make it harder for thieves to get close enough to steal the part

  • If your catalytic converter is bolted on, you can ask for your local garage to weld the bolts to make it more difficult to remove

  • Etch a serial number on the converter or purchase a cage device that locks in around the converter to make it more difficult to remove

One insurer has a useful tip for people who have to park on the street.

Lorraine Price from Direct Line says parking flat on the pavement can make a real difference.

"If you park your car half up on the pavement, that makes access really super easy. For people saving it. So try and park your car flat down on the road as well."

As the cost of living crisis deepens, there are fears that these thefts will go up in number.