Safer Neighbourhood Teams set up in the car park of Waitrose in Raynes Park on Sunday to make people’s cars safer by marking catalytic converters.
The theft of these devices, which have been fitted to the majority of cars made since 1997 to cut down on emissions, has soared in recent years with around 100,000 reported over three years and many other cases believed to be unreported.
Thieves can steal the converters in minutes, by lying under the car and cutting it off. They are then sold for hundreds of pounds because they have rare metals such as platinum or palladium in them. The theft can leave cars practically worseless, or else facing increased insurance premiums.
Using kits supplied by Merton Neighbourhood Watch, officers had invited local drivers to register their cars and bring them along on Sunday morning – more than 45 residents came along on the morning.
Marking the cars requires them to be jacked up and then the converter is ‘painted’ with SmartWater, a substance which has a unique chemical structure only used on that car.
Police register the SmartWater used on each car so that if the converter is stolen and subsequently recovered, it makes it easier to obtain a prosecution against the person alleged to have stolen it.
Councillor Eleanor Stringer, Cabinet Member for Civic Pride, said: “It’s excellent news that we’ve been able to help residents fight back against this increasingly common form of crime.
“The marking event, which will be followed by other events throughout the year, demonstrates again how we are working hand in hand with the Metropolitan Police to make residents safer and more secure.”
There will be more marking dates throughout the year: follow our social media channels to find out when and where they are taking place.
To find out more information about Merton Neighbourhood Watch see: https://www.mertonnhw.co.uk/