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Police in Southampton are investigating a growing number of catalytic convertor thefts from vehicles in the city.
Officers believe that most of the thefts are linked and that the thefts are often well planned.
A mixture of cars, vans and minibuses have been targeted all over the city. So far there have been 34 thefts since the start of March this year.
One of the most likely reasons for the thefts is that the devices can be sold for scrap as they have quite a high value due to a small amount of precious metal inside used in the filtering process. The thieves can remove the devices in just a few minutes.
Local scrap dealers have been spoken to and advised of the problem and most don’t accept them except from legitimate sources. However it’s likely the thieves are disposing of them elsewhere.
The series of thefts is now being investigated by Southampton’s Priority Crime Team. Detective Inspector Dave Jackson who leads the team said:
“This is a significant across the city. Undoubtedly whoever is behind these thefts is organised and in many cases checking out likely vehicles to target, In some case they have broken into compounds to get to work vehicles at night but equally some have happened in the day to car just parked up.
“It can cost more than £1000 to get a convertor replaced and then there is the time off the road for businesses which can have a devastating effect. A minibus used by disabled children has also been hit twice by the thieves. It was a marked minibus parked outside the Rose Road Association in Aldermoor Road and it would have been obvious to the thieves who they were targeting. It just shows how low they will go to get what they want.
“We would suggest where possible people do place vehicles particularly work vehicles in a secure area with CCTV or in a garage as that will help however we recognise it’s difficult to do much more to keep your vehicle safe from this sort of theft.
“It’s very important that anyone who sees any one acting suspicious around or under a vehicle reports it to us and anyone with information about who may be responsible for these crimes is asked to contact my team. We want to find these thieves as soon as possible.”
Those with information are asked to call the Priority Crime Team at Hulse Road on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.