Arrests made following attempted catalytic converter theft
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Three men have been arrested on suspicion of attempting to steal catalytic converters across the county.
Officers were called to Silvermere Golf Club in Cobham yesterday afternoon (30 November) following reports of a group of men acting suspiciously in the car park. Further enquiries around the suspect’s vehicle connected them to other reports of catalytic converters as well as a report of suspicious behaviour at RHS Wisley earlier in the day.
Following swift, collaborative work from Elmbridge Neighbourhood Patrol Team and Surrey’s Roads Policing Unit, the suspects were located and arrested.
The vehicle they were driving was also found abandoned nearby. When searched, officers found various items including gloves and saw blades which are commonly used in catalytic converter thefts.
A 31-year-old man from Camden, a 28-year-old man from Hackney and a 38-year-old man from Hackney were all arrested on suspicion of attempt theft from a motor vehicle and going equipped for theft of a motor vehicle. They have since been released on conditional bail.
Inspector Bert Dean, Borough Commander for Elmbridge said “We are aware that catalytic converter thefts are a real concern for residents in Elmbridge and across Surrey.
“These arrests were as a direct result of the public’s quick-thinking by reporting the suspicious behaviour they were witnessing to us. We encourage anyone who witnesses anything suspicious, particularly in areas where multiple vehicles are parked to contact us with information, including registration plates if possible.”
Thieves are attracted by the potential to steal the valuable metals palladium and rhodium. The best way to prevent theft is to make access to your car’s converter as inconvenient and difficult as possible.
WHAT IS CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFT?
A catalytic converter is a metal device that sits under cars close to the engine
It helps filter harmful exhaust fumes
It's crucial to the smooth running of a car, and they may be written off without one (insurance also isn't valid without one)
They contain valuable metals like rhodium, palladium and platinum, which it why they're so appealing to catalytic converter thieves
You might hear it referred to as 'cat theft', because saying 'catalytic converter theft' is wordy! But please refer to it in full in public comms, as we want to raise awareness of what catalytic converters are and why/how they are stolen
It takes less than 60 seconds for thieves to steal a catalytic converter. Blink and you’ll miss it.
WHAT ARE THE KEY SIGNS OF CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFT?
Cars are often jacked up on their sides using a trolley jack.
Thieves use a cutting device (electric saw?) to remove the cats, so the public should listen out for the sound of drilling or cutting coming from under the vehicle.
We have seen thieves just slide under the car without use of a jack, but this is only usually on high clearance vehicles like the Honda CR-V. In most cases a jack is still commonly used to get enough height for thieves to get under the vehicle to cut the converter away.
CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFT CRIME PREVENTION ADVICE
You can only prevent the theft of a catalytic converter by parking in a locked and secure garage. Everything else may deter or slow thieves down, but they cannot be promoted as a means of preventing theft. Below is some suggested wording on prevention advice.
To help make your car less attractive to catalytic converter thieves, you can:
Make sure your car has an anti-tilt alarm that will go off if the vehicle is physically moved.
Use a property marking kit or consider ID etching. Etching a serial number onto your catalytic converter will help police identify as stolen if recovered after a theft. Overtly advertising that the catalytic converter has been marked (through use of window stickers, for example) can also act as a deterrent, as marked catalytic converters are harder to sell on at reputable scrap metal dealers. You can find more information on etching at www.retainagroup.co.uk
Consider welded bolts for 'bolt-on' catalytic converters to slow thieves down.
Install CCTV that overlooks your car if you park on a driveway or road that can be accessed by cars or pedestrians.
Choose car park spaces that are close to buildings like hospitals and supermarkets, so your car is more visible and suspicious activity more easily detectable.