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Saturday, 8 May 2021

Officers urge public across Nottinghamshire to be vigilant after huge rise in catalytic converter thefts

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A clamp down on catalytic converter thieves has been launched in Nottinghamshire following a rise in this type of theft once again.

More than 90 have been stolen since the start of the year across the city and county, with nine catalytic converters taken from cars across the county in a single night during the latest spate.

The increase in these thefts is a national, and even an international issue, as the catalytic converters contain two valuable metals, rhodium and palladium. The cost of which increased during 2020, and has recently gone up again.

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Hybrid cars are particularly vulnerable because their converters are cleaner, which means the metals inside them are less likely to corrode.

It is believed gangs operate looking for cars to target as they can steal the catalytic convertors within minutes by using a few basic tools.

Nottinghamshire Police is investigating this series of incidents with the aim of flushing out the criminals locally.

Investigations under Operation Yachtsman will see detectives from CID and intelligence working with neighbourhood and response officers to share information and take an intelligence driven and targeted approach to offenders and hotspots.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Waldram, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Operation Yachtsman is our dedicated response to the rise we’ve been seeing in catalytic converter thefts as we are absolutely determined as a force to crack down on this issue.

“Officers from various departments will be working closely together to take a targeted approach to catalytic converter thefts, and importantly to share information which will help and assist us with tracking down those responsible.

“We are keeping an open mind when it comes to any intelligence around this but we do believe this is organised criminal activity and our officers are working tirelessly to investigate these offences and bring those responsible to justice.

“During the previous spike towards the end of 2019, we saw cars being targeted mainly in large car parks. However, with Covid and less people parking to go to work during lock down, the criminals shifted to residential areas instead and as a consequence a large proportion of the catalytic converter thefts we’re investigating now have taken place outside people’s homes.”

He is now urging people to be vigilant in their local areas and if they spot anything suspicious to call 999 immediately as this will be treated as a crime in progress.

“Whilst we are focusing on the investigation of these offences, we have also put in place extra patrols in some of the area we know to be repeat locations,” added DCI Waldram.

“We are determined to find those that are responsible. If you see someone acting suspiciously under a vehicle, report it. Obtain as much information as possible, including any vehicle registrations.

“Victims of catalytic converter thefts are left with costly repair bills and without a car, something which can have a huge impact on their lives and leaves them unable to get to work or make important journeys.

“Thieves target them because they contain high value metals and can be taken incredibly quickly. However, there are a number of things vehicle owners can do to offer themselves further protection if they don’t have a garage, and we are also asking vehicle owners to take note of these.

“The first thing to do is to find out where your catalytic converter is located on your car. If it’s at the front then park with the bonnet towards a wall if possible. If it’s at the back, park with your exhaust to the wall.

“Avoid parking half on the pavement and half on the road as this may make it easier for thieves to get under your car.

“If your catalytic converter is bolted on, you can ask your local garage to weld the bolts to make it more difficult to remove. You can even purchase a ‘cage clamp’, a device which makes converters more difficult to remove.”

Another option for drivers is to ask their garage or dealership to fit a tilt sensor, which activates an alarm if anyone tries to jack the vehicle up to steal the converter.

Below is a list of some of the most recent thefts of catalytic convertors reported to Nottinghamshire Police:

  • The force received four reports of catalytic converter thefts in the Gedling borough between Tuesday (9 March 2021) and Friday (12 March 2021). These incidents, which are currently being treated as linked, happened in Florence Road, Gedling, and in First Avenue, Moreland Court and South View Road in Carlton. During the South View Road incident, which happened shortly after 9pm on Thursday 11 March 2021, the victim disturbed offenders after seeing them go underneath his car holding a battery-operated saw in an attempt to take the catalytic converter.
  • Overnight from Wednesday 3 March 2021 to Thursday 4 March 2021, two catalytic converters were taken from vehicles on Grove Road and Carnarvon Close, Bingham
  • Overnight from Tuesday 2 March 2021 to Wednesday 3 March 2021, two catalytic converters were taken from Sherwood and Worksop.
  • Overnight from Sunday 28 February to Monday 1 March 2021, nine catalytic converters were taken from across the county. Incidents were reported in Sherwood, Castle Boulevard, Basford and Chilwell and Sutton-in-Ashfield. Alongside this, two were taken from Toton and another two were taken from King’s Mill Hospital, Sutton-in-Ashfield.
  • On Thursday 25 February 2021, police were called after the owner of a car parked in Morrisons, Sutton Road, Mansfield returned from his shop to find that the car had been tampered with and that it no longer had a catalytic converter. Three men in hi-vis jackets were reportedly seen around the car and it’s thought the theft happened between around 1.20pm and 1.50pm.
  • The owner of a car in Rugby Road, Rainworth heard a disturbance outside their house at around 12.30am on Sunday 21 February 2021. They were also woken up by noise at around 5am that same morning, and after going to their car they realised the catalytic converter had been cut out. It is believed three men had made an attempt to take this from the car, before leaving and returning with equipment, which they used to lift the car and cut it out.
  •   Another was taken from a car in Fiskerton Court, Mansfield, where the owner had gone to their car in the morning and discovered the theft. It’s believed this happened between 10pm on Saturday 20 February and 6am on Sunday and officers are continuing their enquiries into these incidents.

Officers are exploring the possibility that the incidents are linked but are keeping an open mind while their enquiries continue.

Anyone spotting a crime in progress is urged to ring 999. Anyone with any other information is asked to ring 101, or report it anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

*The video used in this article relates to a catalytic converter theft which took place in December 2019.