227. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice if data are available regarding arrests, prosecutions and convictions for the theft of catalytic converters and the handling of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10778/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I can inform the Deputy that I am very conscious of the impact of this form of theft from car owners, and in particular from individuals owning specific 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.
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. A maximum sentence of 10 years in prison is provided for in the case of convictions for offences of theft and handling of stolen property; while a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison is provided for convictions 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.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that a search of the PULSE database was conducted on the 23 February 2021 for records associated with incidents of theft or attempted theft of catalytic converters.
Based on numbers returned, the table below which has been provided to me by the Garda authorities, sets out the number of arrests which occurred during the period 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021.
As the Deputy may be aware, An Garda Síochána Analysis Service does not typically report on details where there are less than 10 incidents in a given period.
|Year||2019||2020||at 23 February 2021|
|Count of Arrests||15||18||* Less than 10 arrests to date in 2021.|
Please note that the incident data is based upon operational data from the PULSE system and is liable to change.
I am informed by the Courts Service that it is not be possible to run a query specifically relating to convictions for theft of catalytic converters as offences may have been prosecuted under Theft and Fraud Offences Act which relates to general theft. Furthermore, some offences could have been prosecuted using uncoded free text code.