MOTORISTS are being warned to be on the lookout for thieves after a spate of thefts of catalytic converters causing thousands of pounds-worth of damage.

Drivers in Wallingford, Cholsey and Moulsford have reported thefts and suspicious activity to the police, with the force criticised for not doing enough to catch the offenders.

One motorist fears his collectible vintage car could be written off after its catalytic converter was stolen in a violent confrontation.

READ MORE: Drivers warned as thieves spotted stealing catalytic convertors from cars

Herald Series: Cattlemarket Car Park in Wallingford (Google Maps)Cattlemarket Car Park in Wallingford (Google Maps)

The driver, who asked to remain anonymous, caught three men using a hacksaw to cut off the device – attached to the underside of vehicles to reduce exhaust emissions – while the car was outside his home in Moulsford.

The theft, from the car – which has great emotional value having belonged to his partner's late father – took place on Wednesday, April 27 at about 10.30pm.

The men, who were dressed all in black and wearing balaclavas, threatened the man's neighbour with a 6ft scaffolding pole.

The car's owner said: "We seem to live in a nice, idyllic, rural community, but I heard my car alarm going off and I saw three people trying to get the wheels off.

"One was holding a 6ft scaffolding pole and two others were standing by with balaclavas on so I couldn't see their faces.

Herald Series: Catalytic converterCatalytic converter

"They had lifted the car with the pole and one had gone underneath with a hacksaw and cut the catalytic converter out.

"My neighbour came out and we confronted the three guys but they ran off once the deed was done.

"My neighbour ran after them but the guy threatened him with the pole. They then jumped into a black BMW and drove off."

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Police were called and the man was given a crime reference number for his insurance claim but fears that because the car is 20 years-old, it may be written off.

He added: "The actual value of that car part is less than £200. Split between three people, it is not worth the crime.

Herald Series: Moulsford (Credit: Motmit)Moulsford (Credit: Motmit)

"It also doesn't justify facing up the thieves because I could have ended up getting hurt.

"I've started looking at replacement parts, but insurance could write it off despite it being a collectible car in good condition.

"There's lot of emotion with it as it was my partner's late father's car."

There were also been complaints of a theft at Wallingford's Cattlemarket Car Park between May 2 and 4 and other reports of suspicious individuals looking at cars in surrounding villages and entering gardens.

Neighbours are now urging each other to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

The victim said: "It's become quite lawless. We're helpless because if we confront these people we'll probably come off worse."

READ MORE: Spate of vehicle thefts in Didcot and Thame

Herald Series: "We will investigate all reports of crime and follow the evidence in order to bring offenders to justice and before the courts.” (Credit: TVP)"We will investigate all reports of crime and follow the evidence in order to bring offenders to justice and before the courts.” (Credit: TVP)

He said the Pc Andrew Harper tragedy, in which a Wallingford police officer was killed after being dragged along a road by a thieves' vehicle after the officer attempted to prevent the theft of a quad bike, highlighted the dangers of tackling crime.

He added: "We would like to think the law was out there to protect us from these types of people, but I think the case of Pc Andrew Harper has put the fear of God into the police dealing with unruliness."

A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police said: "The investigation has been filed pending further evidence coming to light."

"Thames Valley Police is committed to providing a high-quality service to the public so that when people need us they can contact us swiftly and easily. As this involves people physically coming to police buildings less and less, it is right that we continue to adapt our digital, online and phone response accordingly.

"It is important to emphasise that this does not affect police officer numbers, nor the number of police bases and so the public will not experience any difference in police visibility in our communities.

"All incidents that are reported are responded to based on the threat of risk and harm, and we will investigate all reports of crime and follow the evidence in order to bring offenders to justice and before the courts."

The force urged anyone with information to contact the force quoting reference 43220181506.


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