A SPATE of catalytic converter thefts has spread to the Ashbourne area.
More than 30 thefts of the car part have hit motorists across South Derbyshire in the last month and thieves are now targeting the Ashbourne area.
Police have launched an appeal for witnesses to the crime spree to come forward and have asked home and business owners to share any potentially relevant CCTV footage.
A Land Rover parked at Coronation Cottages, Osmaston, had its catalytic converter stolen between 9am on Monday, April 9 and 9am the following day.
And two Kia Sorento cars were targeted between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The first was parked on a driveway in Milldale Court, Ashbourne, and was hit between 6pm and 8.45am; the second Sorento’s catalytic converter was stolen between 9pm on the Tuesday and 6am on the Wednesday from a house at Duncombe Drive.
Three 4x4 vehicles were targeted during the night on Saturday, April 14, after being parked outside a public house in Doveridge and a catalytic converter was taken from a 4x4 parked outside business premises in Alkmonton, Ashbourne, on the same night.
Police are investigating the thefts and are offering security advice to motorists in Ashbourne with cars that have catalytic converters. The advice includes: Keep vehicles in a locked garage where possible; Park in a well-lit area; Avoid parking near trees or bushes which could provide cover for a thief; Consider installing exterior lighting and CCTV to cover your driveway and garage.
PC John Bointon is the Marston area Safer Neighbourhood police officer. He said: “We would appeal for people to report anything suspicious that they see and don’t assume that someone else has telephoned us. We have put extra patrols into the area and we would ask for people to be particularly vigilant.
“It’s generally the 4x4 cars that they are targeting as people can get under them easily, so don’t assume that someone underneath a car is repairing it.” Catalytic convertors have become an increasingly popular target for thieves as they contain precious metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium.
Nigel Enwright, of Inca Metals in Ashbourne, warned that trying to catch thieves as they weighed in scrap metal would prove difficult.
He said: “What does a stolen catalytic converter look like? It looks like any other catalytic converter.
“Thieves aren’t stupid enough to bring them to scrap metal yards locally. If you go on the internet you’ve got people selling 100 catalytic converters as a job lot. It can cost the car owner around £1,000 to repair and the insurance won’t usually pay it.” Vanessa Guyll is the AA’s technical specialist. She said: “One of the main problems is that if a bit of your exhaust fails in normal use, they can just replace it using a standard component, but when they hack off the catalytic converter wherever it’s convenient, they damage a lot more of the exhaust pipe.
“New converters cost between £500 and £1,000 but then you’ve got to have the rest of the exhaust repaired so you might have to buy extra parts.
“I’ve seen one bill recently for £2,000 — it’s a real inconvenience and expense.” Anyone with information about the thefts can telephone police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.