MOTORISTS are being warned about a new type of vehicle crime which saw offences rise 1,300 per cent in just two years.
Criminals are targeting catalytic converters with high clearance vehicles being particularly vulnerable.
In the Northumbria Police force area there were only nine offences in 2009, but it increased to 45 in 2010 and 132 in 2011 before police action saw the number of thefts drop to 118 last year.
Officers are now asking for the public’s help to bring the figure down even further.
Northumbria Police crime prevention design adviser Allan Brown said: “Although people are aware of the dangers of leaving valuables on view in their vehicles, they do not often think of vehicles parts as being vulnerable.
“Thieves appear to be targeting catalytic convertors because of the precious metals they contain.
“The aim of most of our advice is to get drivers and vehicle owners to obstruct access to the underneath of their vehicles, making it harder for thieves.
“We suggest parking where possible against a kerb, with the catalytic converter closest to the kerb.
“If a catalytic converter is a bolt on type it is possible to have the bolts welded shut or fit protective coverings to make it much more difficult for thieves.
“And finally, have your catalytic converter etched or forensically marked and place stickers in the windscreen to say it has been done.”