Collier Row pensioner forks out �540 in six months after his catalytic converter is stolen twice

A Collier Row pensioner has spoken out after metal thieves made off with his van’s catalytic converter – for the second time in six months.

John Drake, of Lodge Lane, said he would have to pay �150 for the new part – plus a further �200 for a special cage to make it harder to steal.

“If I don’t put a cage in, it might get stolen a third time,” said Mr Drake, 71. “Something’s got to be done about the scrap dealers.”

Catalytic converters are attractive to thieves as they contain platinum – which is worth about �31 per gram, according to the London Palladium and Platinum Market.

Mr Drake works part-time as an electrician and also assists his daughter on her market stall to top up his pension. Due to a spinal injury he needs the van to get around – meaning he couldn’t work while it was being fixed, bringing his total losses to �540 since the first theft in October.

But the platinum in a catalytic converter occurs in such small quantities and is so difficult to extract that the spoils would have been virtually worthless to the thieves.

Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, said a typical catalytic converter would only contain about a gram of the precious metal – and even that would have to be extracted through a costly chemical process only available in Eastern Europe.

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“It’s a fairly expensive operation. It’s not done by a gentle scrape with a pocket knife,” he said.

Mr Drake added: “I’d like to see a law saying that you can’t sell [catalytic converters] to scrap dealers unless you get a receipt and proof of who you are.”

A police spokesperson said: “We have seen a rise in the theft of items from vehicles in this category – particularly catalytic convertors – and would advise where possible that vehicles are parked in a secure location.

“If parking on a street, think about lighting and location, and make your vehicle less vulnerable to thieves.”