Romaing gangs of thieves have stolen £1m of catalytic convertors from cars in Northamptonshire in the past 6 years.
Police intelligence suggests gangs of catalytic converter thieves travel Britain targeting different counties at specific times of the year.
Data collected by crime analysts from Northamptonshire Police has shown clear spikes in catalytic converter thefts in the county during February, March, August, October and December each year.
In total, since 2008, there have been almost 1,000 catalytic converters stolen in Northamptonshire, with each one costing drivers up to £1,000 to replace – a potential impact of up to £1 million.
Chief Inspector Tom Thompson said: “The implications for the victim of a catalytic convertor theft are huge. They will be left with a vehicle that cannot be used until a replacement is fitted at a cost of between £500 and £1,000. This is expensive and inconvenient, and may also bring lost earnings and increased insurance premiums.
“For business victims, the outcomes are often worse, as van and lorry parts have higher replacement costs and taking a commercial vehicle off the road will incur significant losses in revenue.
“Even more frustratingly, the value of the parts to the thief is very low compared to the costs to the victim.”
The catalytic converter thieves target the devices because of the precious metals they contain.
Global issues, such as South African miners’ strikes and the current situation between Ukraine and Russia also can push up their value of the devices.
The most targeted vehicles in Northamptonshire are vans, pick-up trucks, people carriers, off-road vehicles and hatchback cars.
Since 2008, a total of 987 catalytic converters have been stolen in Northamptonshire with many of them in the north of the county.
There were 198 in East Northamptonshire, 170 in Corby, 131 in Kettering and 93 in Wellingborough.
To tackle the situation, Northamptonshire Police has launched Operation Catch to target catalytic converter thieves and educate the public on ways to prevent thefts.
The campaign will see motorists advised on ways to mark their catalytic converters to deter thieves and targeted police operations carried out during the predicted spikes in thefts.
Chief Inspector Thompson said: “Catalytic converter theft is a serious and costly crime that we are determined to clampdown on in Northamptonshire.
“Motorists need to be aware of the potential for thefts, but the thieves also need to know that when they operate in Northamptonshire, we will be waiting for them.”
A free catalytic converter marking event will be held on Thursday, March 27 at Drayton Fields MOT Station, 12 Gresley Drive, Daventry, Northamptonshire, NN11 8RZ from 9am until 3.30pm.
Police staff will be on-hand to give vehicle security advice and explain the benefits of marking catalytic converters. Drivers should call Suzie Fletcher on 101 ext 343989 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, to book a time slot at the event.