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Marking sessions will help beat catalytic converter thieves

Wednesday, 16th February 2011.

Drivers of trucks, vans and 4x4s in Haverhill are being given the chance to protect their vehicles from catalytic converter thieves during marking sessions set up by Suffolk police.

Officers from Safer Neighbourhood Teams across west Suffolk have been trained to mark catalytic converters by engraving or stamping them and marking with heat-resistant paint.

Next week free marking sessions are being held at Mitchell Motors, 20-22 Hollands Road, Haverhill on Monday and Sunday, February 21 and 27, 10am-4pm.

Det Insp Andy Footer said: “Since December catalytic converters have been targeted all over the county, but predominantly in west Suffolk, with 52 stolen.

"It can take just minutes for a thief to remove the catalytic converter from your vehicle – but now it can take even less time to get yours marked.

“I would like to thank the garages for providing space for the marking sessions. Any 4x4 or van driver will be able to visit these garages during the sessions and have their catalytic converter marked by the Safer Neighbourhood Teams for free.

“I would particularly encourage drivers of vehicles such as Ford Rangers and Mercedes Sprinter vans, as an example, to come along, as these are the vehicles most targeted. A letter has been sent to registered owners of vehicles we believe to be at risk in west Suffolk.

“The catalytic converters will be engraved or stamped with the vehicle registration and also marked with heat-resistant silver paint.

"Drivers will receive signs for their vehicles to warn criminals that the catalytic converter is identifiable if stolen.

“If police officers stop any vehicles with catalytic converters on board that we suspect are stolen, we will be able to check them for the markings and trace the owner.

"Scrapyards have been contacted across the county so they are aware of our initiative. They will also be able to check for these markings and alert us if they’re offered a suspected stolen catalytic converter for sale.”

In addition to marking your catalytic converter, you can also take the following steps to keep your vehicle safe –

• Private vehicles should be kept in a well-secured garage where possible, and if no garage is available, in a well-lit, public area.

• Vehicles can be parked in such a way as to make access to the catalytic converter difficult, or parallel with another vehicle if you own one.

• Commercial vehicles should also be kept in a locked building or compound.

• Use alarms, lighting and CCTV to deter thieves.

• Remove items of value from your vehicle whilst unattended and keep it secure at all times.

DI Footer said: “These simple steps can go a long way to ensuring your catalytic converter stays on your vehicle where it belongs. Some of these steps are free; others cost a small amount of money.

"The catalytic converters stolen in Suffolk since December are worth a total £52,000, that’s on average £1,000 per vehicle.

"This does not take into account the lost time and money when your vehicle won’t start, has to be towed to the garage, and you have to find alternate means of transport for yourself or your business when your vehicle is off the road.

“With metal prices remaining high, I would encourage all drivers of utility or commercial vehicles to come to one of the marking sessions and make your catalytic converter unattractive to criminals.”

Any persons or vehicles seen acting suspiciously around other vehicles should be reported to police on 01473 613500. Dial 999 if a crime is in progress.

Haverhill Online News

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