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Forces across the nation crack down on metal crime

04 Mar 2022

Police forces across the nation visited over 600 premises and made 30 arrests as part of a seven-day crackdown on metal crime and money laundering in the waste industry.

British Transport Police (BTP) coordinated the operation, codenamed Goldjuno, which saw police forces join experts from the Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC), Smartwater Group, and motor industry to carry out synchronised enforcement action, intelligence-led site visits, forensic marking and educational events.

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Catalytic converters, which clean harmful gases before they exit a vehicle's exhaust pipe, are often targeted by thieves because of the precious metal they contain.

Last year, over 38,000 catalytic converter thefts were recorded in the UK. These metals have surged in value recently, increasing the risk of organised crime networks committing more offences.

Between Thursday 10 and Wednesday 16 February, officers and partner agencies:

• made 30 arrests
• visited over 600 sites (catalytic converter process plants, scrap metal dealers, vehicle dismantles and catalytic converter buyers).
• stopped 300 vehicles

During these visits, officers searched for stolen metal and examined trader’s financial records to check they were complying with the 2013 Scrap Metal Dealers Act. Because of non-compliance, several premises were served closure notices.

The JUWC coordinated a series of waste site inspections to verify businesses held environmental permits and met other legal requirements.

Catalytic converter marking demonstrations were also held throughout the week to educate and encourage drivers to protect their vehicles. Over 1,438 vehicles were forensically marked by officers and partner agencies.

National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Lead for Metal Crime, BTP Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Doyle, said:

“The police response to metal theft has significantly increased over the past 18 months and we’re making substantial progress in disrupting organised crime groups operating in this area of crime.

“By taking a multi-agency approach, we’re maximising our ability to identify those involved, making it harder for them to sell stolen metal and gain from their criminal activities.”

Phil Davies, JUWC Manager, said:

“This operation again displays the ongoing commitment of the JUWC to use partnership resources and powers to react to intelligence and information relating to scrap metal dealer sites, actively involved in facilitating criminality. This includes catalytic converter theft and cash-based money laundering.

“We will continue to find ways to impact upon and pursue those individuals and companies who use the waste industry to commit crime and harm the environment.”

Reports of metal theft should be made as soon as possible to increase the chances of detection.

People are encouraged to report any suspicious activity to the police by calling 101, or 999 if an offence is in progress. If you spot something at a railway station, contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40.