A NEW Milton car dealer owner is offering a “substantial” reward to help catch four raiders who caused more than £6,000 worth of damage stealing catalytic converters at his business.
“Not only that but also the impact it has had in terms of having to deal with it all. It is just really frustrating and there seems to have been a spate of these types of thefts in the local area recently.”
The thieves struck at the electric car specialist, based on the Queensway industrial estate off Stem Lane, in the early hours of 23rd September. They broke a wire perimeter fence to gain access to the rear yard of the dealership where they tried to cut the catalytic converters from three vehicles – successfully removing two.
Catalytic converter thefts have soared in recent years as the value of precious metals used in them has increased, including rhodium and palladium.
Mr Symons said: “Ironically the cars we sell are electric so do not have catalytic converters. The vehicles they stole them from were a pick-up truck and a Toyota Prius which are apparently targeted by thieves dealing in this market.
“They also tried and failed to remove a converter from another vehicle. They probably sold the converters for a few hundred pounds each. But so far, the cost of repairing the vehicles, having a new fence installed and taking other measures has cost me well over £6,000.
“It has also had a knock-on effect to the business – for a start the pick-up truck is out of action, so I now have to use staff to collect and deliver vehicles.”
He discovered the thefts after finding the fence damaged when he arrived at work and a broken jigsaw blade on the floor of the yard.
Mr Symons said: “We inspected all the vehicles and realised three had been damaged. I do not keep cars out there that I sell, and am now trying to cram all the vehicles I have on the premises into the warehouse.”
He has posted CCTV images of the raiders on social media and offered a reward. In the images four men wearing hoodies and masks over their faces can be seen walking around the yard and tampering with vehicles.
Mr Symons said: “We have reported it to the police but so far they have not come down to see me or asked for the CCTV images.
“I am hoping by posting them someone might recognise some of the clothing.”