CATALYTIC converter thefts have plummeted in Malvern thanks to a dedicated police force operation which has also yielded a key arrest.
Last week a suspect was detained and 12 of the valuable car components were recovered along with a quantity of cash. The person is now on police bail while further enquiries are being made.
Another major success has been the dramatic decline in thefts since Malvern Hills Community Safety Partnership launched Operation Urban on January 22.
Forces had been prompted into action after more than 60 catalytic converters had been stolen from with the district within the previous three months – a rate of one every 34 hours.
The parts contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium and even gold, and can fetch hundreds of pounds on the black market.
New laws introduced nationwide in October started the ball rolling, enforcing more stringent record taking by scrap dealers.
Then in January police stepped up patrols and began other intelligence-led operations to deter thieves and prosecute offenders.
The public were also urged to be extra vigilant and take measures to mark their converters with kits funded by the partnership.
Events hosted by the police and supported by the Overdrive project in Malvern and Tenbury during February saw more than 150 vehicles safeguarded, with 90 marked on the actual days, 40 more booked in for marking and 25 kits sold to motorists to apply themselves.
As a result thefts have reduced significantly with seven in the five weeks directly following the launch of Operation Urban – an average of one every five days.
Insp Steph Brighton from Malvern Safer Neighbourhood Team 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.
“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.
“I’d like to thank the public for their willingness to engage with the problem and take steps to protect their vehicles. I am sure their efforts have contributed to this fall in crime.
“I would also like to express my personnel gratitude to Overdrive, particularly Andy Hunter and Aaron Butt, who both worked tremendously hard to provide an invaluable property marking service to the public across the Malvern Hills District.”
Targeted patrols are still continuing and more marking events have been scheduled with the next taking place between 10am and 2pm on Saturday, March 29, at the Cob House Fisheries in Wichenford.