Suffolk: Warning over theft of catalytic converters

PCSOs Jamie Fudge from the Babergh West Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) during a clamp -down last yea

PCSOs Jamie Fudge from the Babergh West Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) during a clamp -down last year on catalytic converter theft - Credit: Archant

Farmers and people living in rural locations have been warned to be on the alert after a series of thefts from vehicles in Suffolk.

Catalytic converters were stolen from vehicles in Combs, near Stowmarket, Needham Market, Hundon, near Bury St Edmunds, and Haughley between 4.30pm on Monday, February 3, and 7am on Thursday February 6.

Thieves are ripping out the devices, which convert harmful exhaust gases into water vapour and less harmful emissions, because they contain precious metals such as platinum and palladium – leaving owners with repair bills totaling thousands of pounds.

Police said that vans and 4x4 vehicles were particularly at risk because they were easy for thieves to crawl underneath.

Thefts of the converters are said to be on the increase.

While legislation came into force on October 1, 2013 banning cash payments for scrap metal, police have identified direct export of the stolen converters to developing economies as an emerging problem.

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) eastern regional director Nicola Currie said: “Rural areas present the greatest opportunity for thieves. Isolated houses and buildings, less lighting, fewer witnesses and the ease of being able to watch the owner’s movements all add up to a very attractive target for thieves.

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“But simply being aware is not enough: you need to make it difficult for thieves. Vehicles should be parked in secure buildings if at all possible, and keys should never be left in the ignition. You should also seek to make use of alarms, security lighting and CCTV to deter thieves.

“If you’re aware of criminal activity and any suspicious vehicle on your property the most important thing to do is to get the registration number and call 999 if a crime is in progress, or 101 to report an intruder. With modern technology, the registration number is the key piece of information the police require – but it needs to be reported to them immediately to be most effective.”