Residents encouraged to call police rather than intervene in catalytic converter thefts
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Surrey Police are urging members of the public not to challenge catalytic converter thieves, but to call police immediately rather than put themselves at risk after several recent assaults.
Last month we had a total of 50 thefts of catalytic converters in Surrey. This is a significant drop on what we were seeing at the start of the 2021, and less than half the number of thefts in August 2020 (121). This is thanks to public vigilance in calling police and reporting suspicious behaviour around vehicles.
However, we urge you not to approach anyone you suspect is stealing a catalytic converter, even if it’s your own car. We understand why you might want to confront them, but catalytic converter thieves are often involved in organised crime and are not afraid to carry weapons or use violence to get away.
In one recent case, a member of the public chased after thieves who were stealing his catalytic converter and was struck in the hand with a metal bar or bat. Another member of the public challenged thieves who were stealing his neighbour’s catalytic converter and was threatened with an iron bar.
If you think you can see a catalytic converter theft in progress, please keep a safe distance and call 999. Give a description of the suspects, their vehicle, and their direction of travel if they leave the scene while you’re reporting.
Catalytic converters are located under the front of a vehicle close to the engine. They’re stolen because they contain valuable metals. Thieves can steal a catalytic converter in less than a minute, invalidating the vehicle’s insurance and often writing it off altogether.
The main signs for spotting catalytic converter theft are:
Can you see a vehicle jacked up, either in a car park or on the street? Is there more than one wheel off the ground?
Can you hear the sound of metal being cut from underneath the vehicle?
Catalytic converter thieves will often try to pass themselves off as conducting legitimate vehicle maintenance. Please don’t worry that you are wasting police time by calling us. Our contact centre can help you assess the call, and officers would rather attend and establish that a person is legitimately working on a vehicle than not go and miss the opportunity to catch a thief.
Seen the signs? Call 999.