CARS are being targeted by thieves as the latest crime trend sweeps across Cheshire.
Motorists in Chester, Ellesmere Port and the rural areas have recently returned to their vehicles to find their catalytic converters have been stolen.
Eight cars parked at Chester Zoo were targeted including those belonging to families and a group of French exchange students.
Mark Molloy, visiting the zoo from Manchester, said: “The catalytic converter had been stolen from the car which was damaged. This also happened to eight other vehicles on the car park. Some were without vehicle cover and would have had enormous garage bills.
“Myself and my family will not visit the zoo or the city for the foreseeable future.”
Catalytic converters are being targeted by criminals as the price of platinum, the metal used to create the carbon-emissions control system, has shot up.
Various scrap-metal merchants have reported prices of £125 per catalytic converter.
Zoo officials confirmed that last week’s thefts were unique and that security measures were being strengthened.
Spokeswoman Rachel Ashton said: “Unfortunately eight cars were involved in an isolated incident. Nothing happened prior to that at all. Police were visible over the weekend. We do have cameras covering areas of the car parks and there are signs instructing drivers to keep valuable hidden as we take security very seriously.”
Cheshire Constabulary spokeswoman Shelley Williams added: “There have been 13 occurrences so far involving the thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles spread to wider areas of Cheshire but we can assure the public that we are increasing our patrols and visible presence.”