Surrey Police are warning drivers to remain alert and report any suspicious activity after recent thefts of catalytic converters across the county.
The devices, which help reduce pollutants in a car’s exhaust, contain valuable metals which are attractive to thieves.
Surrey Police said this week: “We are receiving increasing reports of thieves using car jacks to lift vehicles (particularly hybrids) to cut out catalytic converters found in the exhaust pipe.
“Catalytic converters are typically stolen and sold as precious metals.
“Owners are then left to foot the expensive repair bill on their vehicles.
Vehicles are targeted on the road, in car parks, and even on driveways, and catalytic converters can be removed in a matter of minutes.
“Thieves may seem as though they are legitimately working on a car and may also be wearing face masks.”
The thefts have increased in recent years throughout the UK. One insurance provider, the AA, recently said that it had experienced a ten-fold rise in claims for catalytic converter theft in 2019 compared to 2018.
Surrey Police have listed ways that motorists could protect themselves from the crime:
“Look out for suspicious activity around vehicles, such as a vehicle being lifted up or someone doing something to the underneath of the vehicle.
“Look out for anyone attempting to steal number plates, as thieves may use these on their vehicles to avoid police detection.
“CCTV such as a video doorbells could provide key evidence and deter offenders.
“An alarm can be fitted to your vehicle that activates if it is tilted or shaken.
“Having your vehicle’s serial number etched on the catalytic converter could help police track stolen items and deter offenders (see retainagroup.co.uk).
“A protective cover over the catalytic converter can help to guard your vehicle (see catloc.co.uk).
“Garages can be asked to weld the bolts holding the catalytic converter on, to make it harder to remove.”
The police added: “If you witness suspicious activity, don’t approach the suspects.
“Where possible, take note of the suspect’s vehicle registration. You can report this via our online form at surrey.police.uk/ro/report. In an emergency always call 999.
“For further information about catalytic converter theft see www.surrey.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/theft-from-a-vehicle.”