STAFFORDSHIRE Police is calling on people to stay vigilant as officers look to fight a rise in catalytic converter thefts across the county.
The warning comes as intelligence shows many of these crimes take place in broad daylight and in full view of members of the public.
In July, there were 23 catalytic converter thefts across the county with cars – including BMWs, Citroens and Toyotas – being targeted.
Thieves target catalytic converters as they contain small amounts of precious metals which increases their value - the price of these metals has increased in recent years.
Deputy Commander for the South Staffordshire Neighbourhood Policing team, Sergeant Kelly Wareing, said: “It’s really easy for people to overlook these crimes because many don’t give it a second glance - innocently presuming that the cars are either being repaired or having their tyres replaced.
“However, this isn’t always the case and that’s why it’s important for members of the public to stay alert. Offenders tend to travel in groups of three or four and are opportunists – within minutes of targeting their vehicle, they will have stolen the catalytic converter and escaped.
“We need people’s help in tackling this issue so we ask if they can look out for this type of activity and record descriptions – noting down anything that could be useful to us. If it’s safe to do so, recording the incident on your phone is also extremely helpful.”
There has also been a rise in tool thefts across the county with 26 vehicles targeted last month – 20 of those in the south of the county.
These incidents, which sees a hole being cut in the door panel or around the lock, tend to take place overnight. This makes it increasingly difficult to determine offending times.
Vehicles should be parked in highly visible, well-lit areas. Off-road parking areas or secure compounds with strong perimeter fencing, warning signs and security lighting should be used wherever possible.
A monitored surveillance system can also be an effective deterrent and crime prevention of this kind can save on costly repair bills and minimise disruption to businesses.
Marking a converter or tools with a unique reference will help police identify the owner should it be stolen, so always make sure that property is marked.
For more security advice visit the Staffordshire Police website and to report a crime or suspicious behaviour call 101, or send a direct message to Staffordshire Police on Facebook or Twitter. You can also anonymously contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.