Thursday, 10 December 2020

Questions (24)

Paul McAuliffe


24. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Justice the progress in tackling the issue of catalytic converter thefts from cars; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42330/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am very conscious of the impact of this form of theft on car owners, and in particular on those owning particular types of hybrid vehicles. I understand that the current interest in catalytic converter theft may be directly associated with the current high price of palladium available on the market.

Garda management in the Dublin Metropolitan Region have taken a proactive, co-ordinated and targeted approach in response to this issue. Information and intelligence in relation to individuals and gangs involved in the theft of catalytic converters continues to be assessed, evaluated and developed. This approach has resulted in a number of successful Garda operations this year in the DMR. Gardaí have delivered a number of co-ordinated and managed arrests of individuals identified as being involved in or associated with thefts of these devices and searches of certain locations and properties which resulted in the seizure of catalytic converters. 

The Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 provides for offences of theft, the handling of stolen property and the possession of stolen property.  The offence of theft provided for by this legislation would, based on the broad nature of the offence, include the theft of ‘scrap metal’ and ‘catalytic converters.’  Maximum sentences of 10 years are provided for in the case of offences of theft and handling of stolen property; while maximum sentences of 5 years are provided for the offence of possession of stolen property.

Irish law relating to the sale and purchase of scrap metal is a matter for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and arises under the Waste Management Act 1996. The Waste Management (Facility Permit and Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 apply to the sale and purchase of scrap metals and were designed to improve the traceability of such scrap metal sales.  The regulations impose an obligation on businesses to apply due diligence measures to ensure the traceability of any waste purchased. 

Officials from my Department are involved in the Metal Theft Forum, which is a collaborative working group between State stakeholders and industry representatives to improve information sharing around the issue of metal theft.

Community Gardaí are also available to provide crime prevention advice to residents groups in areas affected by thefts, and Garda members keep injured parties appraised as to the status of investigations at all times.