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Catalytic Converter Theft

26th August

Police seek support from automotive industry following successful pilot that reduced theft by 57%

The SmartWater Group, creator of the world’s most highly accredited proprietary forensic asset marking solutions, is spearheading a new police-backed, national scheme to deter the theft of catalytic converters and other at-risk components from UK vehicles. 

In a recent SmartWater trial with the National Infrastructure Crime Reduction Partnership (NICRP) and the British Transport Police (BTP), a reduction of 57% was recorded in catalytic converter thefts over a five-month period. MOT test centres, garages and workshops, are now invited to become accredited registration hubs for a national database, creating an additional revenue stream and ensuring all car owners can protect their vehicle components from being targeted by criminals. 

Around 30% of all UK car thefts are geared towards stealing catalytic converters as market prices for precious metals continue to rise. A simple, cost effective ten-minute process, which any garage could offer customers, is now available to deter these crimes. With the vehicle on the ramp, a special SmartWater high temperature product is applied with a brush and the unique formula reference number is logged on the database against the vehicle registration number. 

The ‘National Asset Database’ is operated by the SmartWater Group’s Centre for Crime Intelligence on behalf of the police, ensuring that any recovered stolen parts can be identified and traced back to the specific vehicle they were taken from.

Rachael Oakley, Director of Crime Intelligence said, “This is an important step in providing peace of mind and security to millions of car owners.  SmartWater is a highly-proven deterrent to criminals and rogue scrap metal dealers as it makes stolen parts too hot to handle. We’re currently focusing on catalytic converters but other at-risk components such as batteries, caravans, motorbikes and trailers can also benefit registration on the National Asset Database.”

Police Support

National Infrastructure Crime Reduction Partnership (NICRP) lead and BTP Superintendent, Mark Cleland, said: “Thanks to the support of the Home Office in creating the NICRP, our joint work with SmartWater and other industry partners, and the drive by enforcement partners across the UK, we have made a real impact in tackling metal and catalytic converter crime.”

“While arrests continue to be made, it is the preventative approach through the forensic marking of catalytic converters that gives motorists the opportunity to protect their property and stop the crime in the first place.” 

Unlike the etching of serial numbers, which can be clearly seen by the criminals and removed easily by simply scrapping with a screwdriver, SmartWater is invisible to the naked eye but glows yellow under UV light. Any attempt to scrape it off by the criminal risks spreading incriminating evidence onto their clothes, tools and location. SmartWater scientists only need a speck to identify which vehicle the components belong to. 

Any MOT, auto service centre or car dealership interested in being appointed as a Registration Centre should visit - 

Notes to Editors 

  1. Link to police announcement of 57% reduction in catalytic converter theft: Link to PR
  2. Crime Intelligence currently has approximately 30m items of property registered on the National Asset Database and has undertaken to allow police free access to the data in support of a criminal prosecution. 
  3. SmartWater will provide the police with free forensic analysis of suspected stolen property together with expert testimony in Court. 
  4. This initiative is being launched at no cost to the ‘public purse’.
  5. SmartWater is the only forensic system of its type that is compliant with the Government’s Forensic Science Regulator’s Codes of Practice and the police have used the product in the past to secure convictions against some of the UK’s most serious criminal offenders. 
About SmartWater Group

The SmartWater Group Ltd – – is the largest risk management company of its type, with its HQ based in Telford. It’s comprised of three operating Divisions:

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