In a twist upon normal vehicle theft, vans in the Cambridge area are being a target of opportunist thieves. But it isn’t the vans themselves that is the reason behind the criminal interest, but the precious metals that can be found in their catalytic convertors.
Police have said that criminals can remove a van’s catalytic convertor in 180 seconds or less by unbolting it or using a saw to simply cut it out. Experienced thieves can operate even faster, allowing them to be in and out with this unit in nearly a minute.
Some more brazen criminals have been using mechanic’s dollies to work under the vehicles, giving them quick access to the engine block meaning that they don’t even have to break into the van. In a recent attack, four Parcel Force vans were targeted penecontemporaneously.
In just 24 hours there were six reported cases of catalytic converters being stolen from delivery vans within the Cambridge area with all targeted vans being Mercedes Sprinters - a very popular fleet van for most delivery companies.
It isn’t the unit the thieves are after, but rather the precious materials that it relies on to convert exhaust emissions into less toxic substances. These metals have a high re-sale value and are likely to be stripped out of the catalytic convertor, melted down with metals from other units and then sold on.
Van drivers across the country are being urged to be extra vigilant, especially when parking and leaving their vehicles. Wherever possible park your van in a secure unit over night as this is when most organised criminals tend to strike.
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