The police have issued reports of a number of recent thefts of catalytics converters in South Cambs, with Mercedes Sprinter vans being targeted specifically. These thefts include the following:
- Between 1880 hours on the 3rd July 2015 and 0500 hours on the 6th July 2015 a Home Improvement Company in Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, had the whole exhaust system taken off a Mercedes Sprinter van, parked at the location. – Crime Number CF 0268790715
- Between 1700 hours on the 4th July 2015 and 0600 hours on the 5th July 2015 a Construction/Building Company in Pembroke Avenue, Waterbeach had 3 catalytic converters stolen from their vehicles. All were Mercedes Sprinter vans parked at the location. Crime Number CF0267300715
- Between 1900 hours on the 6th July 2015 and 0600 hours on the 7th July a business premises on South Cambs Business Park, Sawston, had a catalytic converter stolen from a Mercedes Sprinter van that was a parked on the road near the business premises. Crime Number CF 0270060715.
- At around 2110 hours on the 6th July 2015 an attempt was made to possibly take the catalytic converter on the Mercedes Sprinter van which was parked on The Grip Industrial Estate, Linton. Damage was caused underneath the vehicle. It is believed offenders were disturbed. A black Audi A4 was seen to make off from the area with 4 males inside. Crime Number CF0270420715.
If you have any information regarding the above crimes, please let the police know immediately. Did you see an Audi A4 acting suspiciously in Linton around that time on the 6th July? If you did they would like to know. Please use the non-emergency number 101 and quote the crime number when calling in.
In light of these thefts, please see their information and advice below, which could help reduce the chances of you being a victim.
- What makes a catalytic converter so valuable? There are three types of metals that help the catalytic converter remove toxins from the vehicles’ emissions: platinum, palladium and rhodium. The price of these already valuable metals has increased by hundreds of pounds an ounce in recent years. It’s the tiny amounts of these metals on the screens inside the catalytic converter that makes them so valuable.
- Tools of the catalytic converter thief Stealing a catalytic converter takes either a wrench or a reciprocating saw. In some cases thieves have used mechanics' dollies to slide under vehicles more easily.
- How long does it take to steal one? About 3 minutes to either unbolt it or use the reciprocating saw to cut it out. Good thieves are even faster.
Ways to deter catalytic converter thieves include the following:
- Report suspicious activity If you see anyone working under vehicles, and they are acting suspiciously, report it to the police.
- Effective security lighting Lighting is vital to reducing catalytic converter theft. Though opportunistic thieves may strike in busy areas in broad daylight, the more organised thieves are more professional, more risk averse and are more likely to offend at night. Good security lighting can therefore make vehicles more visible and improve natural surveillance. External dusk to dawn lighting which automatically, stays on during the hours of darkness and goes off as it starts to get light is the most appropriate type of security lighting.
- CCTV For some businesses it will make sense to install CCTV to protect their vehicle fleet. Remote-monitored CCTV could even stop catalytic converter theft before it happens if the monitoring centre can notify the police in real time as an offence is taking place.
- Perimeter security Fencing will deter the occasional/opportunistic catalytic thieves and it will slow down the more organised thieves. Advice on appropriate perimeter security can be provided by a Crime Reduction Advisor, or information on ‘police preferred’ fencing products can be found within the ‘products’ section of the Secured by Design website.
- Defensive parking With a fleet of vehicles it is possible to block the high-clearance vehicles with low-clearance vehicles. The goal here is obstructing access underneath the vehicle. At the very least it will slow the thieves down as much as possible so that other security measures have time to respond effectively.
- Welded bolts If a catalytic converter is a 'bolt on' it is possible to have the bolts welded shut. This is only a deterrent to the lowest grade of catalytic converter thief, though – the one who works with only a wrench. In some cases it might still be enough of a deterrent to help prevent a theft.
- Catalytic converter protective sleeves Protective coverings for catalytic converters, such as the device known as the 'Catclamp', can deter thieves. The Catclamp and competitor Catcuff makes it much more difficult for the reciprocal-saw wielding thief to steal catalytic converters. They are, however, quite expensive and may not be cost effective to protect a large fleet of vehicles or an auto dealership. They may be more appropriate for protecting owners of one or two vehicles.
- ID etching Etching a catalytic converter with a serial number will help the police to track your converter after it’s stolen. Overtly advertising that your vehicles are protected with this form of property marking may also deter offenders, as it will potentially reduce the opportunities for selling on the converters at reputable scrap metal dealers. More information on ID etching can be found at www.retainagroup.co.uk.
If you need to report a crime call 101 for non-emergency calls and 999 in the case of an emergency.
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