POLICE in Devon are tackling the problem of catalytic converter thefts with forensic marking kits.

The kits have been funded by Toyota in order to support the initiative and reduce the number of crimes happening.  

Offences of stealing catalytic converters have happened across rural East Devon, Exeter and Mid Devon and local garages are now working in conjunction with police to reduce the number of thefts.

Offenders often steal the valuable emissions devices because of the precious metals which may be found in them. Catalytic converters may then be sold on the black market or via scrap dealers.    

Joe Champness, Crime Reduction Lead for Devon and Cornwall Police, explained: “Devon and Cornwall Police has used analytical data to understand those areas which have been affected by catalytic converter thefts and we have visited local car garages in the affected areas to see if they would be willing to support the marking of these valuable vehicle parts.

“Nearly 40 garages have been signed up and agreed to be part of the scheme throughout rural East Devon, Exeter and Mid Devon. These garages have been provided with a number of forensic marking kits and will be marking the vehicles themselves.

“Based on national data, police have been able to identify the most high risk vehicles and we are now in the process of writing to local vehicle owners of those types to notify them of the option to have their catalytic converter marked free-of-charge. They can then contact a participating garage directly.

“The co-ordination of the scheme is being managed by Police Support Volunteers who are doing an incredible job and I would really like to emphasise the importance of volunteers to the police as it is them who is making this happen.”

Police can check if a vehicle has been forensically marked as the substance used is visible under UV light and can forensically trace the catalytic converter to the vehicle it was stolen from.  

For more information about theft from vehicles see the force website Catalytic converter theft | Devon & Cornwall Police (devon-cornwall.police.uk)

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The ONS (Office of National Statistics) has confirmed that Devon and Cornwall Police force area has the second lowest rate of overall crime and the lowest rate of victim-based crime.

Latest crime statistics were issued on January 25, 2024 for the year ending September 2023.