Men arrested in crackdown on catalytic converter thefts

Two men from Telford have been arrested in a police crackdown on catalytic converter thefts.

The men, aged 27 and 29, have since been released under investigation after West Mercia Police officers took park in a week-long stint of dedicated activity and operations between April 19 and 26.

There has been an increase in reports of catalytic converter thefts since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Catalytic converters are part of a car's exhaust system, and are targeted by thieves due to their scrap metal value.

The devices are broken down by criminals to access the precious metals inside, including palladium, rhodium and platinum. Demand for these materials has intensified due to the pandemic's impact on mining and the economic toll of lockdown, increasing the value of the metals.

Throughout the week the force held multiple converter marking events to deter thieves and help identify the converter if it is taken. During these events, 172 vehicles were marked.

Officers visited 23 scrap dealers, eight vehicle dismantlers, six catalytic converter buyers and two process plants across Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire, to engage and educate them on what to look out for when buying converters. They also stopped 26 mobile collectors, concentrating on rural locations.

Chief Inspector Gareth Morgan said: “I am extremely pleased with the results of this intense week of action. Catalytic converters thefts have been on the rise and the activity is part of our drive to stop this.

“I’d like to reassure the public that although the week of action is over we will still continue to work to tackle this problem. Patrols have been increased in areas across the force where we believe this type of theft more likely and our officers will continue to build relationships with the scrap metal dealers in order to catch those who have stolen converters.”

To keep your vehicle safe from converter thefts, keep it in a garage if possible or somewhere well lit with motion activated lighting. Locks can be fitted to converters, and SmartWater can be used to catch thieves.

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