Rugby resident's warning after twice confronting pipe-wielding catalytic converter thieves on his drive

He is warning Rugbeians to keep a look out for the thieves

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 3:53 pm
CCTV of the thieves in their black Vauxhall Astra.

A Coton Park resident who managed to scare off brazen pipe-wielding thieves twice is now warning Rugbeians to be vigilant following a spate of catalytic converter thefts.

The resident, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke to the Advertiser about the gang of three who he had to confront twice on his drive while they hacked at his car's exhaust.

These incidents come after a spate of similar thefts or attempted thefts in the town - with thieves appearing to be targeting newer Toyotas for the precious metals in their catalytic converters.

One of the thieves clutches a steel pipe.

The thieves first targeted the resident at 7pm on Thursday, March 4.

He was in a zoom meeting in a room next to the drive when he heard a loud scraping noise coming from outside.

He said: "That was the sound of them jacking up the car - and then they started using a power saw or a grinder."

The resident ran out to his drive and was confronted by three men who were in the process of trying to cut through sections of his car's exhaust in order to steal the catalytic converter.

One of them men was clutching the long steel bar which had been used with the jack - and it was this man the resident came face-to-face with.

He said: "I shouted 'get the f--- off my drive' and they ran.

"This is the one good thing, they weren't interested in trying to fight - but I don't know if that's just because I'm quite broadly built with very little fat. I can sometimes look quite intimidating."

Strangely, before they ran off, one of the men, who appeared to speak with a Liverpool accent, said, 'I'm sorry' to the resident.

The resident said: "I didn't get the make of the car but I got the reg.

"My wife had called the police and they were here in about three minutes - they were amazing.

"I gave them the reg and they went out looking for them.

The thieves were not found, but the resident later worked out that the car was a black Vauxhall Astra five-door - although the number plate on the car was registered to a Peugeot in Coventry.

He said: "This is just speculation - but I think they find somewhere hidden like a block of garages, pull in, change number plates and then wait for things to calm down."

Despite being chased off once, the thieves had the cheek to return to the resident's home at around 7pm on the night of Saturday, March 6.

He said: "This time I was in the kitchen, which is right next to the driveway and I heard their grinder going off.

"I ran out and again I'm facing them - except this time the taller one is holding the steel bar.

"I said 'I can't f---ing believe this' - get off my drive' - and they ran."

Although the thieves had not managed to get the catalytic converter, in their two visits they had severely damaged the resident's exhaust system - to the extent his car needed to go in for repairs on Monday, March 8.

As well as costing the resident a £250 insurance excess, the need for the repairs meant that he could not perform his volunteer role with Rugby Fill the Gap (see www.facebook.com/Rugbyfilllthegap), which sees him deliver meals to families in need.

To add further insult - the resident spotted the thieves drive by his house on the Monday - presumably looking to strike again.

But their reconnaissance was fruitless - as the car was still at a garage undergoing repairs.

"We found out that in their two visits they had got it so they were one bolt away from being able to steal the cat," the resident said.

"The man who picked up my car for repair said the parts can be worth £500 - so for the sake of one more bolt the gang must have wanted to come back and finish the job."

The resident has joined Rugby Police in warning Rugbeians to be extremely vigilant following a spate of thefts and attempted thefts of catalytic converters in the town in recent weeks.

The resident said: "One of the best things you can do is to find a way of stopping them from jacking up the car - I've built a wooden frame with an alarmed padlock to underneath the car.

"It's a pain to remove it when I need to go to work - but if it stops them it's worth it.

"You can also get Catlocs and Catstraps online - these help to secure your catalytic converter.

"They won't stop thieves completely, but it's going to mean it takes them a lot longer to get what they want.

"Without any security, they can be on your drive and have the catalytic converter away in the time it takes to make a cup of tea."

Last Thursday Warwickshire Police issued a statement to warn of thefts on Faraday Way, Hawlands and Lennon Way.

Anyone who has information about a previous incident is asked to call 101, while anyone who spots any suspicious behaviour - especially people underneath cars - should call 999.

Police issued the following

The incidents occurred in Faraday Way, Hawlands and Lennon Way. Anyone with information is asked to call 101.

We’re working hard to tackle vehicle crime, you can help us:

• Keep your vehicle in a garage or secure area if you have one

• Alarms, lighting and CCTV help to deter thieves

• Buy a protection device for you catalytic converter

• Set your dash cam to detect movement

• Park with your exhaust close to a fence, wall or kerb to make it difficult for thieves

• Avoid parking half on the pavement and half on the road as this makes it easier for thieves

• If parking in a car park try to park alongside other cars

• Mark your catalytic converter with your car’s serial number – this makes it harder for thieves to sell it on and means it can be tracked back to your vehicle if police seize it