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Police operation underway after spike of catalytic converter thefts in York

Last modified: 11 December 2020 at 03:43pm

Police in York have launched an operation to make the city a ‘no-go’ area for catalytic converter thieves.

Officers have increased patrols and are urging vehicle owners to take extra precautions after a recent rise in thefts.

High prices for precious metals and the popularity of hybrid vehicles are two of the factors behind an increase in catalytic converter thefts in York.

Used catalytic converters

In the four months from the start of August 2020, there were 21 incidents in which catalytic converters were stolen in the city. Offences typically occurred late at night on a Friday or Saturday, on driveways or on-street outside the victim’s home.

A thief can cut a catalytic converter out of a vehicle in minutes – leaving the owner having to deal with insurance claims and expensive repair work.

While there is a legitimate market for second-hand catalytic converters, thieves target them for the scrap value of the precious metals found inside. Hybrid vehicles (whose catalytic converters tend to contain more precious metals) and 4x4s (whose higher chassis make them more vulnerable) are particularly at risk.

In York, the most frequently-targeted vehicles have been Toyota and Honda hybrid cars. Large vans have also been targeted.

Police are urging the community to work together to reduce these offences. High-visibility, proactive patrols, linked to ANPR and police intelligence, will make it extremely difficult for criminals to operate in the city undetected. Meanwhile, motorists are urged to take extra precautions to protect their vehicles:

  • With darker nights drawing in, park your car in a locked garage where possible, or a well-lit and populated area
  • Park close to fences, walls or a kerb, or alongside other vehicles, to make theft more difficult. Avoid parking 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 and obstruct access underneath
  • Ask your local garage about security measures such as a cage device to lock around the converter, a tilt sensor to activate an alarm if the vehicle is jacked up, or equipment to etch a serial number on the converter itself.
  • If you see someone acting suspiciously under a vehicle, report it to the police. If a crime is in progress, dial 999. Obtain as much information as possible, including any vehicle registrations.

Officers are also working closely with local authorities, and posters warning about catalytic converter theft are being displayed at locations across the city.

Scrap metal dealers in the region are being asked to be on the lookout for people attempting to sell on catalytic converters, and pass any information to the police.

Anyone with information related to the theft of catalytic converters should call North Yorkshire Police on 101. Alternatively, information can be given anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If you see a theft in progress, call 999.

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