A Bolton taxi driver has said people in the industry are in a state of fear over the theft of catalytic converters and has called for measures to makes them safe.

Siraj Patel works in the Private Hire Taxi Union in the town.

As part of this he is a member of three WhatsApp groups which contain around 750 people.

He says there are regular reports that a taxi driver has had their catalytic converter stolen.

The materials are stolen because they contain precious metals.

Mr Patel revealed the devastating impact this can have on somebody who works in the taxi trade.

He said: “It has been going on for the last three years but it is getting worse.

“It is a big issue.

“If you steal one it can be sold for £600 to £700.

“On a Mercedes they can cost £2,500.

“It can take two weeks to get them replaced so you lose two weeks of work.

“On a Toyota it can be £1,000 to £1,500 to replace.”

Mr Patel went on to explain why he believes taxis are vulnerable to this theft.

He said: “We have to have an identifying sticker.

“Most taxis are a Toyota hybrid.

“We want them to be magnetic so we can remove them when we are not at work.

“It makes us an easy target.”

He added: “There needs to be punishment for people who buy the catalytic converters as well as for those who steal them.

“They are encouraging criminal behaviour.

“They need to be made to pay costs, court costs, costs to taxi drivers.”

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Mr Patel raised his concerns at a recent Police and Communities Together (PACT) meeting which took place in the All Souls Church in Halliwell.

Cllr Rabiya Jiva said she was working with police officers on this and if data showed that taxi drivers were vulnerable then a proposal could go to the licensing committee for them to be able to use magnetic identifying badges.

It emerged earlier this year that Greater Manchester was particularly vulnerable to these thefts.

In 2022 there were 1,214 thefts of catalytic converters recorded by Greater Manchester Police, equivalent to 101.97 per 100,000 households.

The rate is the tenth worst in the country.