Van drivers alerted to converter theft rise

AN operation has begun to tackle the thefts of catalytic converters in York as part of a move to combat an alarming increase in metal thefts across the city.

The crackdown, called Operation Bonafide, which was unveiled yesterday by the Safer York Partnership, York Council and North Yorkshire Police, comes as figures show that since last November, 40 catalytic converters have been stolen in York.

The most commonly targeted vehicles were Mercedes Sprinter vans.

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As part of the operation, several city garages are joining forces with local scrap dealers to ensure that catalytic converters offered for sale can be identified by distinctive security markings.

Councillor Sandy Fraser, cabinet member for crime and community safety, said: “We are really pleased at the enthusiasm with which local garages have embraced this initiative.

“They are making a significant contribution towards the reduction of metal theft in York.”

The organisers said local residents can now contact any of the garages participating in the crackdown to arrange suitable times to take vehicles to be security marked.

A Safer York Partnership spokesman said: “Owners of Mercedes Sprinter vans are particularly encouraged to take this opportunity to get their catalytic converters marked.

“This project contributes to police activity under Operation Tornado, a national initiative to reduce metal theft.“

Last year, the Yorkshire Post revealed that gangs of thieves were stripping away York’s heritage after stone raids spiralled to their worst in more than 30 years.

Council chiefs say they believe the precious York stone, which paves many of the city’s streets, is being targeted by gangs travelling into North Yorkshire from other parts of the region who are stealing it to order in broad daylight, before selling it on for about £100 per square metre.