From Thames Valley Alert.
We have recently seen an increase in theft of catalytic converters from vehicles. With increasing scrap metal prices this has become a problem across the whole country.
The Police are working with local scrap yards and garages to tackle metal theft and South Bucks Community Safety Partnership is offering advice to residents and businesses to help prevent the theft of catalytic converters.
Who is at risk?
Vehicles with a higher clearance such as people carriers, 4x4s and vans are targeted more than other vehicles as it is easier for criminals to get underneath and access the converters, meaning thefts can take as little as 60 seconds.
Locally the most targeted vehicles during recent months have been people carriers – namely Volkswagen Sharan, Seat Alhambra and Ford Galaxy’s.
What simple steps can you take to protect your vehicle?
Park strategically & use garages
Homeowners are urged wherever possible to park their vehicles in garages. If not possible, park in view of housing or in busy and well-lit areas. Commercial vehicles should be kept in a locked building or compound if available. To prevent access to the underneath of your vehicles, try to block high clearance vehicles by walls or hedges or use other vehicles with a lower clearance.
CCTV / Alarms
The installation of CCTV to cover parking areas can help reduce theft. The use of driveway alarms can help alert you to anyone trespassing on your property.
Good security lighting can make vehicles more visible, improving natural surveillance to deter thieves. On a driveway consider using motion sensor lighting. External dusk to dawn lighting which automatically stays on during the hours of darkness and goes off as it starts to get light can be very effective in areas where there is good surveillance from other people.
Fencing is the first line of defence for most compounds and regular checks of fences for damage, ensuring holes are properly repaired will help deter the opportunistic thief. Business managers are advised to think about putting fencing around vehicles to act as a deterrent.
Look out for people working under cars who are acting suspiciously. If it doesn’t look right – report it.
What security products are available?
You can find out more about specially designed security products that aim to protect vehicles against catalytic converter theft by looking online. The use of marking kits and protective clamps among other measures act as a deterrent and help the police to prosecute those that steal or handle stolen property. Your local garage may be able to help you choose and fit these products.
There are special marking fluids available to etch a registered security number permanently to the catalytic converter. If it’s stolen and recovered, it will be easier to trace back to your vehicle. Kits include a sign for your vehicle’s window stating that the converter is security marked. This may act as a deterrent to thieves as it will be easier for Police to trace to a theft and reduce the opportunities for selling on the converters at reputable scrap metal dealers.
If your catalytic converter is bolted on it is possible to have the bolts welded shut to prevent a thief unbolting it easily with a spanner. However this makes it more difficult and costly if you ever need to replace your catalytic converter.
To secure your converter invest in a specially devised lock, clamp or security cage, and you could save yourself time and money in the long run. Protective coverings are quite expensive but make converters much more difficult to steal.
How can you contact us?
If you have any information which may help the Police with these crimes please call 101 or to give information anonymously you can call the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555111. If you see any suspicious activity around vehicles then call 999 immediately.