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Catalytic converter warning after spate of thefts in York

Last modified: 23 October 2020 at 12:37pm

Police have stepped up patrols in York after a series of catalytic converter thefts overnight.

Officers are urging people to be vigilant, take steps to secure their vehicles, and report any suspicious activity immediately – to help make the city a ‘no go area’ for the thieves.

Just before 1am today, Friday 23 October 2020, police were called to the Acomb area, where a resident reported he had disturbed a group of men interfering with his Toyota Auris car. The men drove off at speed in another car. On inspection, the catalytic converter from his car had been removed and stolen.

At about 1.15am, a group of men were seen next to a Volvo V70 in the Fulford area. Officers attended immediately, but the men had left. The car’s exhaust had been cut, but the catalytic converter was still in place.

At 2am this morning, a resident in the Tang Hall area of York was woken by a noise that sounded like drilling. She noticed men crouching around her Honda Jazz car and shouted at them. They made off in another vehicle. The catalytic converter from the car had been stolen.

A Honda Jazz car with its catalytic converter removed and stolen

In light of the overnight thefts, police are stepping up proactive patrols across the city, and house-to-house enquiries are ongoing as investigating officers gather information on the suspects.

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.

Owners 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 asking scrap metal dealers to be on the lookout for people attempting to sell on catalytic converters, and pass any information to the police. Last week, officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce conducted site visits to scrap metal yards – as part of a national campaign targeting metal theft – to ensure relevant legislation was being complied with.

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