Catalytic converter theft in Willesden Green highlights growing problem

A recovered catalytic converter, left, and the tools used to steal them

A recovered catalytic converter, left, and the tools used to steal them - Credit: Archant

Shoppers in Willesden Green were left gobsmacked as a man allegedly attempted to saw a catalytic converter from beneath a car before raising his middle finger to onlookers.

Footage shows the man with what appears to be a reciprocating saw climb under a car and begin cutting away at it outside Sainsbury’s in Willesden High Road.

It appears he has two attempts at removing the part. But while taking a short rest he raises his middle finger at others in the car park.

A video of the incident was posted to social media where residents could not believe the the man was so bold to attempt an alleged theft in broad daylight.

One commented that it was “unbelievable”, while another said it was like something from the “Wild West”. Others suggested police and Sainsbury’s staff should have done more.

The number of catalytic converter thefts in North West London has been on the rise over the past couple of years. It can take thieves less than a minute to remove the part and leave victims with expensive repair costs.

Between January 2019 and August 2021, there were 2,850 recorded catalytic converter thefts in Brent and Harrow, according to figures from the London Assembly.

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Japanese cars are targeted most often – 86 per cent of thefts in the region across this period were from Toyota, Lexus and Honda vehicles.

Brent Assembly Member Cllr Krupesh Hirani said: “Catalytic converter thefts are not only costly for vehicle owners, but can also be quite a traumatic experience.

“I have spoken to many victims of the crime in my constituency who have been left feeling very distraught and distressed.

“These thefts are often carried out ruthlessly and brazenly by organised crime groups and we have seen a significant up-tick recently because of the rise in the price of precious metals.

“The best way of preventing this crime is by designing it out.

A Met police spokesperson said: “Police were called at 15:19hrs on October 18 to Willesden High Road following reports of an attempted theft of a catalytic converter.

“It was reported that the suspect had been disturbed by members of the public and fled. Officers attended and searched the area but the suspect was not located.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “The police were called to an incident at our Willesden Green store last week and we’re supporting them with their investigation.”

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