Motorists are being advised to take steps to protect their vehicles following a spate of catalytic converter thefts across Kent.
Since August 2019 there have been 173 reported thefts or attempted thefts throughout the county, including 34 each in Dartford and Sevenoaks, and 21 each in Canterbury and Medway.
Recent examples include a theft from a vehicle parked in Hermitage Lane, Maidstone, on Tuesday 29 October, another from a car parked in Railway Street, Chatham, on Monday 11 November and a third from Littlebourne Road, Canterbury, on Thursday 14 November.
On Tuesday 5 November a 22-year-old man from east London was arrested on suspicion of stealing catalytic converters from multiple victims across Kent and released on bail pending further enquiries until Friday 29 November.
Detective Superintendent Mark Weller of Kent Police said: ‘Vehicle crime can have a big impact on victims as repairs can be costly and time spent without a vehicle can make it difficult for victims to get to work, drop their children off at school and generally go about their daily business.
‘We are therefore very keen to make motorists aware of the recent increase in catalytic converter thefts and ask that they take steps to protect their vehicles from opportunistic thieves.
‘Kent Police is committed to tackling this type of crime and we therefore encourage residents to be vigilant and report anything to us straight away, including anybody seen acting suspiciously around vehicles, while we seek to identify those people responsible for these thefts.
‘As well as reviewing CCTV footage we are also working closely with partners including car park operators to ensure vehicles are protected as much as possible. We are also engaging with scrap metal dealers to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal and also identify any dealers who may be operating illegally.’
Crime prevention advice
· Contact your car manufacturer as some sell clamps and security cages that make catalytic converters more difficult to steal;
· Park your vehicle in a garage whenever possible;
· If you do not have a garage then park in a busy, well-lit area;
· Consider installing good quality CCTV cameras;
· Security-mark and register the metal shell of the converter so we can return it to you if it is stolen and recovered.