Police investigate a spate of 39 catalytic converter thefts in Gravesend and Dartford area
Dozens of catalytic converters have been stolen from cars in Gravesend and Dartford.
Police are investigating 39 thefts from vehicles over a three-month period.
Catalytic converters are a popular target for thieves because of the valuable metal they contain.
The thefts were reported between November and January and now police are urging motorists to take steps to avoid becoming another victim.
Sgt Jo Kirkham said: “To reduce the risk of being a victim of this type of theft, vehicle owners should try to keep their vehicle in a garage whenever possible, or park in busy, well-lit areas.
“You could also security mark and register the metal shell of the converter so if stolen and recovered, it will be easier to trace.
“Mark or etch it with the vehicle registration number, or serial number, and consider fitting a catalytic converter clamp or security cage to protect it.”
Kent Police are so concerned with the number of thefts, they teamed up with the Metropolitan Police for an overnight operation on Friday, February 14 to tackle vehicle crime.
Sgt Kirkham added: “This operation saw Kent Police working very closely with the neighbourhood teams from the Metropolitan Police force, disrupting people suspected of being responsible for these crimes in Kent and on the London borders.
“We spent time gathering intelligence and information relating to these crimes and our Special Constables were also on duty distributing crime prevention leaflets and providing reassurance to residents.
“Eleven people were arrested for various offences. A vehicle reported stolen in the Swanscombe area was recovered and inquiries are ongoing to identify and locate an offender.
“Kent Police continues to work hard to reduce the number of thefts by also working closely with scrap metal dealers, to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal and also identify any dealers who operate illegally.
“We have also liaised with vehicle manufacturers, some of who are marking their cats at source and some who are implementing a new style of cat that contains less precious metal, making them worth less.
“New scrap metal laws have also recently been introduced which have outlawed cash payments and tightened up licensing regulations, making it harder for thieves to sell stolen catalytic convertors as scrap metal.”
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