Britain has been hit by a dramatic surge in the theft of catalytic convertors from cars.
Three-quarters of the UK’s police forces have reported an increase.
In some areas the thefts have risen 1700%.
In Nottinghamshire there were nine thefts in 2018.
That figure hit 163 in the first ten months of 2019.
One village near Newark was hit three times in a night.
A local resident said: “You see men in white vans driving around the villages on the lookout for places to steal from.
“It’s not just catalytic convertors they’re after, they take quad bikes, machinery, even stone garden ornaments.
“Simply, if it isn’t locked and bolted it’ll go.
“Despite passing on van numbers to the police little seems to be done – if anything.
“Rural crime is reaching epidemic proportions.
“It’s an easy hit with no chance of being caught.”
In London last year 2,894 catalytic convertors were stolen – often in broad daylight and within minutes.
The convertors – essential to a car’s emission control – contain the elements palladium and rhodium.
Palladium is worth £1,300 an ounce and rhodium £4,000 an ounce.
Hybrid vehicles are often targeted because the convertors are used less during driving.
Drivers who fall victim to the theft might not even realise the part has been stolen.
Although the precious metals found in catalytic converters are small in quantity, the parts can be sold on for hefty sums to scrap-metal dealers.
Nottinghamshire police issued the following advice to car owners:
- If you can, park your vehicle in a locked garage when it is unattended.
- If it’s not possible to garage your vehicle, park it in a busy, well-lit area as close to your property as possible.
- Consider installing a Thatcham approved alarm to your vehicle. Ones that activate if your vehicle is lifted or tilted are particularly effective.
- Use a catalytic converter protection device or marking system.
Catalytic converters control and convert exhaust emissions from your vehicle into less toxic substances.
If yours is stolen, you will know because your vehicle’s engine will sound different.
If you suspect your catalytic converter has been stolen, report it to us at once.