Police have urged members of the public to be aware of the threat of thieves stealing catalytic converters from their vehicles.
Northamptonshire Police says the number of thefts has dramatically decreased over the last two years – but there were still 133 in the county in 2014.
That was down more than 50 per cent from 284 the previous year – and from 317 in 2012.
There were 24 thefts in Wellingborough last year, with 222 taking place in East Northants, 20 in Kettering and five in Corby.
Catalytic converters, which are part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, contain a number of precious metals, which is why they are attractive to criminals.
They can cost as much as £1,000 to replace and thefts also cause significant inconvenience to motorists.
Chief Inspector Tom Thompson says the force is offering people free catalytic converter markings to make them less attractive to thieves.
The markings, which are made using a special acid and which can trace a stolen converter back to its owner – making it significantly less valuable and more risky for criminals – were being given out today (Friday, January 9) at the Bridge Hotel in Thrapston.
Chief Insp Thompson said: “We are asking people to take whatever steps they can to make sure that when their vehicles are unattended they are parked safely.”
Among the measures are to park in well-lit and secure areas, and to park against a wall or anything else which would make it more difficult for thieves to get underneath a vehicle.
Will Vandenbrink, from Wellingborough, had his catalytic converter stolen last year.
The 55-year-old said: “I had heard of them being stolen from commercial vehicles or Transit van-types, but never off 4x4s. It just goes to show that no matter what you’ve got, you’re vulnerable.”