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Hospital Staff Targeted by Catalytic Converter Thieves

Published on: 8 Feb, 2022
Updated on: 9 Feb, 2022

Catalytic converters are valuable because of the precious metals they contain.

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Thieves are targetting doctors and nurses at Surrey hospitals and stealing catalytic converters from their cars as they work long shifts looking after patients, including those suffering from Covid, Surrey Police has said.

The car park at the Royal Surrey County Hospital

The force said a rise in the crime was first spotted in the first Covid lockdown when hospitals were busy compared to other areas, and hospital staff working long shifts would often come out to find their cars “undriveable” after the crime.

Figures from Surrey Police show 169 catalytic converter thefts have been reported in just two months, with the most affected boroughs being Reigate and Banstead, Tandridge and Epsom and Ewell.

In Guildford 14 thefts of catalytic converters have been reported.

Detective Inspector Kate Hyder told a Surrey Police media briefing on Tuesday (February 8) that she couldn’t think of a single Surrey hospital that had not been affected by this type of crime, which targets the precious metals found in the converters.

Table of catalytic converter thefts per borough since December 2021.

DI Hyder said thefts can happen anywhere. She said: “Initially in the first lockdown we saw it happening a lot in hospital car parks.

“Often in the staff car park, you’d get a nurse or a doctor that had done an 18 to 20-hour shift, treating Covid patients quite often, they come out and their car’s completely undriveable.”

She said that often people would not realise the converter, which filters the fumes released by cars, had been stolen until they tried to start the car and there would be a loud noise as if the exhaust had blown.

She added that because the removal of the converter is relatively quick and the price for the metals – especially palladium – was very high, thieves were targeting shopping centre car parks as well.

She said they could jack up a car and removed the catalytic converter within a minute, and that Surrey was particularly being targeted because of its closeness to London and because key roads like the M25 and the A3 allowed a quick getaway.

Thieves can jack up a car and removed the catalytic converter within a minute.

During the briefing police said the signs to look out for are were vehicle being raised using a car jack and a loud drilling or cutting sound coming from underneath the vehicle.

Police have heard instances of people approaching thieves and being threatened or assaulted, and so are asking the public to call 999 if they suspect this type of crime is taking place.

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Responses to Hospital Staff Targeted by Catalytic Converter Thieves

  1. Sharon Osgood Reply

    February 11, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    I had my catalytic converter stolen last week from Farnham, Surrey. I care for my elderly 89-year-old mother and I lost my dad at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. It is very upsetting to have this crime done to you when you are caring for people.

    I have just received car parts I need, purchased online as my car insurance was going to write my car off, but the box had been opened and the replacement catalytic converter was stolen.

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