POLICE have appealed for help from the public to stop “thieves and organised gangs” amid a flurry of catalytic converter thefts.

Inspector Andy Tanner revealed West Mercia Police are “actively investigating several cases” of a crime that is causing “concern with forces across the world”.

A spate of incidents in Worcestershire was highlighted recently with the arrest of an 18-year-old man from Stourport in possession of an electric saw on St Paul’s Street, Worcester, on Saturday, January 30.

Stourbridge News:

West Mercia Police confirmed he had been arrested on suspicion of vehicle interference and going equipped to steal.

A VW Passat was stopped in Bridgnorth Road, Wollaston, in the middle of the night in October.

The four men inside were arrested on suspicion of theft after five catalytic converters which had been cut from vehicle exhaust pipes and found in the boot of the car.

A 22-year-old scrap metal dealer from Brierley Hill, a 19-year-old man from Wolverley, a 22-year-old man from Dudley and a 25-year-old man from Halesowen were taken in police custody. 

Inspector Tanner said: “Thieves tend to target vehicles such as vans and 4x4s that have a higher ground clearance making the converters more easily accessible. However, all types of vehicles are vulnerable.

“The illegal market for the metals that the converters contain is strong and each converter can make a thief hundreds of pounds, but take only a few minutes to remove from a vehicle and can cost thousands to replace.”

“We are actively investigating several cases and would ask people to please take a few steps to reduce the chances of their vehicle being targeted. One of those steps is to please report any suspicious activity around parked vehicles that you may see or have recorded on mobile devices, CCTV or in-vehicle cameras.”

"Some of these thefts are happening in broad daylight and in public areas. I am asking the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.

“This may include groups jacking up a vehicle and working under them using only a battery angle grinder."

The force issued the following tips to prevent your vehicle from being targeted.

• Keep your vehicle in a garage if you can

• If you park it on a driveway, install motion activated lighting

• Otherwise, park in a well-lit, populated area

• Forensic security marking kits are available to mark your catalytic converter

• Locks are also available that can be fitted to your converter

• Use high visibility signage to deter thieves