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Drivers are being warned to be vigilant following a spate of catalytic converter thefts in areas including Sevenoaks and Swanley.
Since 22 January 2021, at least seven catalytic converters have been stripped from vehicles at locations which also include Edenbridge, Penshurst, Weald and Eynsford.
Criminals use a jack to lift cars and steal the parts, in a process which takes just a few minutes.
The exhaust emission control devices contain a small amount of precious metals which can then be sold at high prices.
In recent years vehicle manufacturers have introduced new models of catalytic convertor which contain less precious metal, making them worth less.
Because of this, thieves are now often targeting cars which are more than 10 years old.
Chief Inspector for Sevenoaks district, Mark Stubberfield said: ‘The latest offences over the past two weeks have taken place during both daytime and at night and all involve Toyota and Honda vehicles, including one car manufactured in 2002. ‘I would like to reassure drivers that we proactively patrol areas targeted by thieves and also work closely with scrap metal dealers to trace those selling stolen metal and identify any dealerships that may be operating illegally. 'We are also asking residents to play their part, by remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious behaviour. Call 999 if you think a crime is in progress.’
To reduce the risk of theft, owners are advised try and keep vehicles in a garage whenever possible, or park in busy, well-lit areas.
Where possible park close to fences, walls and kerbs with the exhaust closest to the barrier to make it difficult for thieves.
Drivers can 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.