Could engraving help stem East Anglia’s rising tide of catalytic converter theft..?

Drivers across East Anglia are being offered free engraving to mark their catalytic converters.

Police in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire are introducing the service in a bid to curb increasing numbers of catalytic converter thefts.

Thieves steal the converters, fitted to vans, 4x4s and high-range cars, because they contain precious metals. Officers believe engraving the catalytic converters could prevent criminals from selling them on.

In Norfolk, police are targeting hire companies and businesses with fleets of vans.

Det Con Andy Brown, from the force's Operation Radar Team, said: 'It's a country-wide issue. We're targeting fleet vehicles at the moment because the majority of thefts are to vans.

'You tend to find they'll go to a site with 20 or 30 vehicles like a hire company.

'The reason being they can get underneath them without having to jack them up because of the height of them.

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'The scrap value of a van cat is more than a car catalytic converter.'

Det Con Brown said free marking kits were available from Norfolk's safer neighbourhood teams. They include stickers to warn would-be thieves that property has been security marked.

In East Cambridgeshire, garages involved in a police pilot scheme are offering to engrave catalytic converters while vehicles are being serviced or having their MOT inspection.

Neighbourhood policing officers will be handing out letters to vehicle owners to raise awareness of catalytic converter thefts.

Insp Robin Sissons, of Cambridgeshire police, said: 'We have seen a significant rise in the number of thefts recently due to an increase in the value of the metals they contain.

'We are committed to tackling this type of crime and it is great we can work with so many garages in the area to provide this service to help reduce the number of catalytic converter thefts.

'The marked catalytic converters are painted with a heat resistant paint making them easily identifiable. The yards will check and record details of these markings and the local team will check these against our crime records during our daily visits.'

A catalytic converter marking session at Hunters Land Rover, organised by police in King's Lynn, had to be repeated due to high demand.

Police say owners must also play their part to help combat theft, by becoming more security-minded.

Garages who have agreed to take part in the scheme in East Cambridgeshire are the EMG Motor Group; Marshalls of Ely; ATS Euromaster; B&T Motors; Ely Tyres; Doughty Walker; Victoria Tyres; LG Cars; ALS Autos; Kings of Witcham; A10 Car and Bike; Olympic Tyres; VW Cars of Burwell; Robbie's; Jaggard Brothers; Isleham Renault and Kirtling Garage.

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