POLICE are urging residents to be vigilant following an increase in catalytic converter thefts, including a recent incident in Helsby.
Since Wednesday 27 May officers have now received 12 separate reports of theft incidents involving catalytic converters – an increase of six in the past few days.
Honda, Toyota, Lexus and Kia cars are particularly being targeted, and although thieves have stolen catalytic converters across Cheshire the most recent incidents occurred in Runcorn, Widnes, Northwich, Ellesmere Port, Chester and Helsby.
Inspector Anton Sullivan, of Cheshire Constabulary’s Roads and Crime Unit, said: “Investigations involving my unit and colleagues from neighbourhood policing teams are ongoing in relation to the thefts and we are following a number of lines of enquiry.
“While the investigations take place I encourage motorists to be vigilant and review any security measures they have in place.
“In recent times offenders have been predominantly targeting hybrid vehicles.
“Honda, Toyota, Lexus and Kia cars have been targeted, but other vehicles may also be at risk.
“Offenders use specialist tools to remove catalytic converters from vehicles and have been doing so in daylight at car parks and other areas where cars are left.
“If you see anyone using tools on cars in such places please let us know as soon as possible.
“I also ask scrap metal dealers to be mindful if they are ever offered catalytic converters or exhaust systems and to contact us if they suspect that they could have been stolen.”
There are a number of steps that motorists can take to reduce their chances of becoming a victim, including:
If possible, park your car in a garage
If your car is at high risk, consider marking the metal shell of the converter with a unique mark, so that if it is stolen it will be easier to trace back to your vehicle
If your catalytic converter is bolted on, the bolts can be welded shut – this would not stop a determined thief but would slow them down
Giving some consideration to the way your vehicle is parked could reduce the chances of your catalytic converter being stolen – high and low clearance vehicles being parked close together make it more difficult for a thief to gain access to converters
Good quality lighting will improve natural surveillance and make a thief less likely to be able to remove a catalytic converter without being seen
Leaving your car in an area covered by CCTV may also deter thieves – CCTV systems should be well signed.
If you have any information about the thefts, or if you see anyone removing catalytic converters or acting suspiciously in your community, please call Cheshire Constabulary on 101.
Alternatively, information can also be reported anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.