Increase in catalytic converter thefts in Rugby - with many thieves specifically targeting business car parks

Police officers have reported an increase in catalytic converter thefts in Rugby - with many thieves specifically targeting business car parks.

Catalytic converters are box-like devices fitted to your car’s exhaust.
Catalytic converters are box-like devices fitted to your car’s exhaust.

From June 1 to July 22, a total of 24 catalytic converters were stolen from vehicles in Rugby.

Rugby officers said they are stepping up patrols and are issuing security advice following the small increase in catalytic converter thefts in the borough.

Officers said many of those thefts happened in the car parks of businesses – something officers are keen to make the public aware of.

Safer Neighbourhoods Chief Inspector Karen Jones said: “Residents are often good at making sure they do what they can to minimise the chance of these thefts happening at home.

“But they may let their guard down when it comes to parking outside a pub, hotel or shop - making it easier for would be thieves to target their vehicles.

“We’ve already identified the problem areas and we’ve stepped up patrols – with our officers providing a visible presence and engaging with the public.

“Our officers are also engaging with Rugby businesses to check their security procedures and to give advice on how to help us to prevent thefts.”

Traffic officers from Operational Patrol Unit (OPU) Warwickshire continue to target catalytic converter thieves.

Inspector Jem Mountford, who leads the OPU team, said: “We have had a lot of success over the last 12 months – on some occasions stopping cars with boots full of catalytic converters.”

OPU officers patrol the roads in high-powered cars, and they are ready to respond quickly to reports of a theft in progress.

Inspector Mountford added: “There have been incidents where witnesses have called in a theft in progress giving us the opportunity to respond quickly and hopefully catch the offenders.”

“We rely heavily on information from the public – so please do phone 999 if you spot a theft in progress.”

Catalytic converters are box-like devices fitted to your car’s exhaust. They reduce the amount of harmful gasses that your car emits but, because some contain precious metals, they can be targeted by thieves.

A spokesperson for Warwickshire Police said: "Would-be thieves need to be able to jack your car up in order to access its catalytic converter – and if they spot an opportunity, some can complete the theft in just 60 seconds.

"While officers in Rugby and across the county are working to catch and deter the thieves, there are some steps residents can follow to help too.

"If parking in a public car park, you can make it hard for them to target your car if you park alongside other vehicles – if possible, also park the back of your car close to either a wall, fence, kerb or another vehicle.

"Try also to pick public car parks that have CCTV installed.

"If parking on the street, try to avoid parking half on the pavement and half on the road. This raises your car and can mean thieves do not even have to use a jack to access your catalytic converter."

If you spot suspicious behaviour you can report it online via www.warwickshire.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime

Call 999 if you see a crime in progress.