Europol has supported an international investigation led by France and Bulgaria to dismantle a criminal network involved in the theft of catalytic converters in France. The operation has led to the arrest of 8 individuals.
On 22 May 2017, officers from the French Police and Gendarmerie, carried out house searches in Tarascan, Saint Aunes and Narbonne (South of France). As a result, 8 Bulgarian nationals were arrested, suspected of having stolen over 580 catalytic converters.
Europol supported the operation with information exchange and by facilitating an operational meeting.
According to investigations, the total estimated losses could amount to EUR 650 000.
Metal theft has emerged as a significant criminal phenomenon across EU Member States in recent years. Thieves are now also targeting catalytic converters from parked cars because they contain valuable metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.
The value of catalytic converters depends on the type of vehicle. The minimum price for the precious metal contained in one converter is EUR 50 on the second-hand market. The value and accessibility of catalytic converters (CATs) makes them attractive targets for theft. They are stolen from vehicles parked on the street as well as from recycling companies.