DUDLEY police are hoping to drive out crooks who target vehicles’ exhaust systems and leave motorists stranded.

Borough cops say between April and December 2013 a total of 71 catalytic converters, known as cats, have been reported as stolen.

Officers have launched a new initiative to trap cat criminals, who sell their ill-gotten gains for scrap, by coating converters with liquid which links them to specific vehicles.

The cats are coated with a liquid which contains a unique code which can be registered to the vehicle’s owner.

Sergeant Corrina Griffiths, from Dudley police station has organised the initiative codenamed Operation Boscat.

She said: "The special fluid allows us to check converters that we find on our routine visits to scrap dealers against crime reports. With all of their customers having to produce photo ID, we can then trace the person who cashed it in."

"It’s important that all motorists and businesses who own high-clearance vehicles, like 4x4s or vans, are aware of how best to protect themselves as these are easier for criminals to crawl under.”

For more information on how to get vehicles marked, contact Sgt Griffiths on: op_bosscat@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk