A POLICE crackdown has seen a significant reduction in the number of catalytic converter thefts.

The Malvern Hills Safer Neighbourhood Teams launched an operation to deter thieves in response to a sudden increase in thefts over the winter, with 58 converters stolen between November and January.

Extra patrols are being conducted across the Malvern Hills district and they are undertaking other intelligence-led operations to deter, tackle and prosecute offenders alongside a campaign to get people to protect their vehicles.

The first week of January saw 12 thefts, while only two occurred in the last week of February.

Inspector Steph Brighton, who leads the Malvern Hills Safer Neighbourhood Teams, said: “It would appear we have seen success through the combination of increased and focused police resources and passing on crime prevention messages to the public through the media, social media and at events.

“Last week, a suspected catalytic converter thief was arrested and 12 catalytic converters were recovered along with a quantity of cash. This person is now on police bail pending further inquiries and subject to restrictive bail conditions, which will be rigorously enforced.

“However, we know our efforts have to continue to ensure the thieves do not return. We will always rely on the public to take steps to protect their property and report any suspicious behaviour to the police.”

Catalytic converters are stolen from vehicles due to the value of the precious metals they contain, such as platinum and palladium.

Funded by the Malvern Hills Community Safety Partnership, the teams purchased forensic marking kits, which once applied to converter means it has a unique code that can be traced back to its vehicle if it is stolen.

Targeted patrols will continue along with the marking events, with the next one taking place on Saturday, March 29 at the Cob House, Wichenford, near Worcester, from 10am to 2pm.

* Thefts per week:

1-7 January (7 days) : 12

8-14 January (7 days) : 6

15-21 January (7 days): 1 *operation launched*

22-31 January (10 days) : 3

1-7 February (7 days) : 2

8-14 February (7 days) : 0

15-21 February 13 (7 days) : 0

22-26 February (5 days) : 2