Police are warning motorists of a rise in the number of catalytic converter thefts recently in Bridgwater and Taunton.

Officers have been seeing an increase in thefts in recent weeks, occurring during daylight hours as well as overnight.

Catalytic converters are positioned underneath a vehicle and can take less than a minute to cut and remove.

They are attractive to thieves due to the current high prices of the metals inside them such as platinum, palladium or rhodium.

They can be very expensive for victims to replace, particularly in newer vehicles.

While hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius are particularly likely to be targeted for their catalytic converters, the police say that they are currently receiving reports about thefts from various types of vehicles.

Police are asking people that see someone acting suspiciously around a vehicle to report it to police on 101. Ideally, they should give a vehicle registration/make/model and colour, and a description of the suspects. If the crime is in progress, call 999 instead.

Additionally, anyone with information specifically relating to recent catalytic converter thefts in the Taunton/Bridgwater area which could assist police enquiries is asked to call 101 and quote reference number 5221052792.

To help prevent your vehicle being targeted, police have offered the following crime prevention advice:

  • Park your car in a locked garage where possible, but if this isn’t an option then park it in a well-lit and well-populated area, where neighbours and passers-by could see anyone tampering with your vehicle
  • Park strategically! In order to steal the parts, thieves need to slide under the vehicle and use cutting tools to detach the box from the pipes around it. This means parking your car close to fences, walls or kerbs will make theft much more difficult.
  • Avoid parking your vehicle half on the pavement and half on the road, as this may make it easier for thieves to access the catalytic converter.
  • If parking in a public car park, consider parking alongside other cars and facing your bonnet towards the wall if possible. With the catalytic converter positioned at the front of your vehicle, this will make it harder for thieves to get close enough to steal it.
  • If your catalytic converter is bolted on, you can ask your local garage to weld the bolts to make it more difficult to remove. You can also purchase a ‘cage clamp’ which is a caged device that locks around the converter to make it more difficult to remove.
  • You can also etch a serial number onto the converter to assist police should yours be stolen. Some garages will do this for you, and you will also be provided with a sticker to be displayed in your window indicating your catalytic converter is marked to deter offenders from targeting your vehicle.
  • For further security, you can speak to your dealership about the possibility of adding a tilt sensor that will activate the alarm should a thief try to jack the vehicle up to steal the converter.