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Gangs stealing catalytic converters from Cambridgeshire car parks

Organised gangs are targeting car parks in order to steal catalytic converters from vehicles, Cambridgeshire police have warned.

The thieves are making a beeline for hybrid cars, delivery vans and 4x4 vehicles, which have higher ground clearance.

Gangs then sell the parts for their second-hand value or take them apart to access precious metals inside.

One victim was Nicola Gardner, from Histon, whose catalytic converter was cut from beneath her car between 1.30pm and 4.30pm at the Trumpington Park & Ride site on Monday, July 22.

Catalytic converters. Image supplied by Lincs Police. (14627106)
Catalytic converters. Image supplied by Lincs Police. (14627106)

She said: “I took the bus to Great Kneighton country park to attend a course. When I returned and set off, the car made a terrible noise and I thought something must have fallen off. So I stopped and called the RAC.

“The engineer arrived and said the catalytic converter had been stolen and that the thieves target hybrid cars like mine. Apparently they pull up in a van and use bolt cutters to cut them off.

“I’m amazed this happened in broad daylight – the car park was absolutely packed. It looked to me as though the CCTV cameras didn’t move, so I don’t think they were filming the car park.

“If we had known there was this problem we would never have used the Park & Ride – we would have cycled instead.

“I want to know what the police and the Park & Ride team are doing to stop these thefts.”

Catalytic converters. Image supplied by Lincs Police. (14627106)
Catalytic converters. Image supplied by Lincs Police. (14627106)

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson confirmed that not all of the car park would be visible on the CCTV system.

According to Cambridgeshire police, there have been eight catalytic converter thefts since the beginning of June.

The parts have a resale value of around £300 but it can cost owners £2,000 to replace them.

A police spokesperson said: “We are aware of organised gangs targeting car parks across the county to steal valuable car parts. It is part of a nationwide series in which several people have already been arrested for theft of catalytic converters.

“Police have been working with vehicle manufacturers nationally for almost a decade to tackle this issue. In recent years, the crime pattern has shifted from large vans (which contain more precious metals) to cars, as van manufacturers have made adaptations to prevent thefts of this nature.

“There is a national operation in place to track the gangs, specifically working with scrap metal dealers and exporters of metals.”

They advise car owners to park in a locked garage, buy a catalytic converter lock, or if your catalytic converter is bolted on, consider having the bolts welded to make removal difficult.

Parking with the exhaust close to a fence, wall or kerb can also make theft more difficult.

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