Catalytic converter thefts on the rise as 446 recorded across Cambridgeshire so far this year
New statistics released by Cambridgeshire Police have shown that Catalytic convertor thefts are on the rise in Cambridgeshire, with 446 recorded incidents so far this year.
That is the figure for between January and August this year and that is predicted to rise sharply as precious metal prices continue to remain high.
Police have confirmed it is a difficult crime to crackdown on as often thieves work quickly and leave no forensic evidence at the scene.
It is believed that thieves are mostly targeting older cars, given the higher platinum content in their converters; as well as Japanese-made cars. Toyota Pruis and Honda Jazz are two models of car that have been identified by Cambridgeshire Police’s Superintendent James Sutherland as particular targets for thieves.
He has urged anyone who sees anything suspicious to call 999 straight away.
Superintendent Sutherland said: “It is a crime on the rise, unfortunately we’ve seen thefts of catalytic converters rising across the county but particularly in the south and around the cities. It’s being driven by the prices of precious metals, which you can find in catalytic converters.
“It’s a very niche crime, you need to have some understanding and knowledge about what you’re doing and most need somebody to fence these stolen metals through. It’s not easy and that means it’s a relatively small number of gangs doing it.
“They are not pleasant people and we’ve had incidents of people confronting them at night and have faced assaults and being threatened themselves. They are not people you want to confront, it’s definitely a case of, if you think your car is being tampered with, calling 999 straight away. These people are very determined, the way you have to think about it is as if there is a reasonably priced engagement ring stuck to the underside of your car and they will want to get at it.
“If somebody hears a strange noise at night and it looks like somebody tampering with their vehicle, immediately get onto 999 but this is not just a nighttime offence. We see a lot happening in the daytime as well. What we tend to see is park and ride and large car parks being targeted. Thieves might try and disguise themselves as mechanics. We need people to be really vigilant, it would be quite rare to see a car jacked up in a car park. If you’ve got suspicions, it’s well worth calling us and if it’s all fine then a genuine mechanic will have no issue with us coming and finding out what they’re doing.
“It is a difficult crime to police unfortunately, typically the thieves doing this are very proficient, know what they’re doing, it will take them moments to get under a car and to use a battery-powered grinder to remove the catalytic converter, it will take them seconds in most cases. Very rarely will they leave behind any forensic evidence, they are very savvy in terms of people around and who is watching. So, a lot of the work investigating this will be going on in the background.
“In general, if you can park your car off the street, park it in a garage that is better, if you are in a car park, leave it in a well-lit area near CCTV. Depending on the type of car, there are some specific products that will protect your catalytic converter. “Typically they will target cars from Japanese manufacturers, Toyota Pruis and Honda Jazz are models we’ve seen targeted a lot, and ones that are a little bit older, as technology has moved on and less metals are used now technology has moved on. If you have one of those models, it’s well worth investigating specialist options and speaking to your dealer or garage. You can get very secure covers that will go over the top of the catalytic converter, which will make it much harder to go under there and cut it out.”