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Massive rise in catalytic converter thefts

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SIGNIFICANT progress has been made in relation to a spike in thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles across the county, according to Clare’s top Garda.

Outlining the crime figures for the first three months of 2021, Chief Superintendent Seán Colleran noted that thefts from MPVs had more than doubled on the same period last year. The figures, presented to members of Clare’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) bear out the big jump in reports of thefts at locations all over Clare in recent months. While all other categories of property crime fell in the first quarter, year-on-year, there was a 115% increase in thefts from vehicles. “There were 34 thefts from MPVs between January and March of last year and 73 this year,” outlined the chief superintendent. “Catalytic converters are very much the target. Significant arrests and in-roads have been made in this regard.”

Reacting to the figures, Councillor Alan O’Callaghan noted that catalytic converters are stolen for their scrap value. “Have Gardaí been visiting scrap yards?” he asked. “I have been there myself lately and it’s well controlled because you have to present ID and prove the nature of your business there.”

Chief Superintendent Colleran assured the Fianna Fáil member that scrap yard visits form part of the forces’ investigations. “The metal in catalytic converters has incredible value and we’re very aware of why they are stole and where they can end up,” he said. “That’s why we regularly visit scrap yards during our investigations.”

In one five-day period in January, nine thefts of catalytic converters were reported to Gardaí. These incidents happened in locations right across the county from Ballyvaughan to Miltown Malbay, Ennis, Tulla and Kilkishen.

Clare’s Crime Prevention Office has been actively raising awareness of the issue for several months and has warned that while replacing a catalytic converter can cost a motorist up to €2,500, they can be stolen in a matter of minutes. The devices are stolen because of the increasing prices in the scrap metal market (platinum, rhodium, palladium and other precious metals they use to clean exhaust emissions).

Gardaí are advising using property marking to tag the catalytic converter; welding bolts shut to act as a deterrent; using casing available through garages and parking the car in a well-lit area, as close as possible to the wall of your house or driveway to make it difficult to access the underside of the vehicle.

Chief Superintendent Colleran also stressed the importance of vigilance with respect to general theft from vehicles. “In some cases where there’s been a theft from a vehicle, the car has been left unlocked,” he said. “We continue to emphasise that we need to make things more difficult for opportunistic thieves.”

Figures presented to the JPC also show a 63% drop in burglaries. They fell from 67 between January and March of last year, to 25 in the first quarter of this year. Thefts from shops fell 48%, from 81 to 42, in the same time-frame. Crimes defined as ‘other thefts’ fell by 4%.

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