POLICE are telling car and van owners to be vigilant following a number of thefts of catalytic converters.

Since the beginning of May, there have been five reports of thefts of catalytic converter or exhaust systems – in Ellesmere Port, Winsford and Northwich.

Two cars were targeted in Gateacre Court and Criccieth Court Ellesmere Port on May 23, and on May 25 on Manchester Road in Northwich, the catalytic converter was stolen from a parked van.

DS Paul Wilcock of the western intelligence unit said "These vehicles, particularly vans, have been targeted by thieves intent on stealing the devices, as small component parts of catalytic converters are made of valuable metal.

“Thieves find it easier to access the underside of a van as they generally have a taller wheelbase than conventional cars.

“Whilst we are investigating the thefts we would urge car owners and businesses to take some simple steps to protect their vehicles.

"Catalytic converter theft can go unnoticed until the vehicle makes a louder noise than usual, so regular checks should be made and anything suspicious reported to police.

“Catalytic converters can be etched with a serial number or alternatively marked with identity marking water or a UV pen. There should be some form of sign or sticker on the vehicle to show that the property has been marked.

“If the catalytic converter is etched this will make it more difficult for the thief to sell the catalytic converter on and also make it easier for the police to trace a stolen item.

“Similarly, I would advise van owners to securely lock away their vehicles in a secure yard or garage where possible.

“We would also ask scrap metal dealers to be mindful if they are offered a catalytic converter or exhaust system, and if in doubt, contact police.”

Anyone who sees anyone acting suspiciously in these areas should contact police on 0845 458 0000.”