An operation targeting the theft of catalytic converters has driven down offending in Staffordshire.
In February of this year 68 catalytic converter thefts were reported across the county. This figure fell to 24 thefts reported in June and 10 so far in July.
NPCC figures show catalytic converter theft rose by 64 per cent nationally during 2020, when compared with 2019. This is linked to the exponential rise in the price of rare metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium used in their manufacture.
Chief Inspector David Wain, Staffordshire Police’s senior investigating officer for this type of crime, said: “It’s important for members of the public to stay alert.
“We’re delighted that the work being done by officers right across the county is having an impact, but we’re not complacent.
“While this kind of crime might be perceived by some as low-level, we know it has a very high impact on the victim often resulting in their vehicle being written off and a big increase in personal insurance. This is particularly impactive on people who rely on their vehicle due to disability or for their employment.”
He said the force had used intelligence reports and information from victims to target individuals and groups committing the crimes, as well as raising awareness with the public.
“We need people’s help to tackle this issue so we ask that they look out for this type of activity and record descriptions – noting down anything that could be useful to us. Try to obtain any key information such as registration numbers of vehicles carrying offenders and makes and models in case the plates have been changed.
“We would urge anybody who witnesses an incident taking place to call 999 immediately. Often offenders will raise a targeted vehicle on a jack to get to the catalytic convertor. We would like to remind people that the tools they carry for such offences are dangerous to others so we would encourage people not to approach them and to call 999 if the crime is in progress.
To reduce the risk of having your catalytic converter stolen, you should:
• Park your car in a locked garage where possible. But if this isn’t an option, then park it in a well-lit and well-populated area, ideally covered by CCTV.
• If parking in a public car park, consider parking alongside other cars and facing your bonnet towards the wall if possible. With the catalytic converter positioned at the front of your vehicle, this will make it harder for thieves to get close enough to steal it.
• Avoid parking your vehicle half on the pavement and half on the road, as this may make it easier for thieves to access the catalytic converter.
• If there is a fleet of vehicles, park the low clearance vehicles to block the high clearance vehicles. This will obstruct access underneath.
• For thefts occurring on driveways, consider the use of a Secured by Design (SBD)-approved driveway alarm and sensor. This may assist in alerting you of a potential intruder entering your driveway or garden.
• If your catalytic converter is bolted on, you can ask for your local garage to weld the bolts to make it more difficult to remove.
• Alternatively, you can ask a trained mechanic to mark your catalytic converter. Please ensure any property marking is Secured by Design (SBD)-approved.
• You can purchase a ‘cage clamp’ – a cage device that locks in around the converter to make it more difficult to remove. Toyota are offering a ‘Catloc’ for their Prius (third generation, 2009-to-2011 models) and Auris (second generation, 2012-to-2018 models). Please contact your Toyota dealership for more information.
• Speak to your dealership about the possibility of installing a Thatcham-approved alarm and tilt sensor that will activate should any thief try to jack the vehicle up to steal the converter.
• If you see someone acting suspiciously under a vehicle, report it to Staffordshire Police. Obtain as much information as possible, including any vehicle registrations and makes and models of vehicles should they be using cloned plates.
For further security advice please visit the Staffordshire Police website. To report a crime or suspicious behaviour, send a direct message to Staffordshire Police on Facebook or Twitter. You can also anonymously contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Always dial 999 in an emergency