Two men have been jailed for stealing catalytic converters from two cars in Warrington.
Seamus Maughan and Terence Mongan, both of Warrington Road in Runcorn, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from a motor vehicle and one count of going equipped for theft.
Maughan also admitted to driving whilst disqualified.
They were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday 9 February.
Maughan, 38, and Mongan, 45, were jailed for 32 months and 30 months respectively.
Maughan was also banned from driving for four years.
The offences were committed in Warrington on Friday 16 October.
After receiving reports of men in a green Toyota Avensis having stolen catalytic converters from parked cars in the Station Road area of Padgate and the Knutsford Road area of Grappenhall that afternoon, officers located the vehicle in the Gemini Retail Park area of Warrington at around 8.30pm.
Maughan and Mongan attempted to run away when the car was stopped by the officers.
They were quickly detained and the stolen catalytic converters were subsequently found in the boot of the Toyota Avensis.
The car also contained equipment and tools that are used to steal catalytic converters.
Maughan and Mongan refused to answer any questions when they were interviewed in custody.
That was never going to stop charges being secured against them, and with them having been caught red-handed they were left with little option other than to plead guilty to the offences.
Detective Sergeant Tom Hall, of the Warrington Beat Initiative Team which investigated the offences, said: “I would like to thank the members of the public who supplied us with the information we needed to locate the Toyota Avensis, recover the stolen catalytic converters and bring Seamus Maughan and Terence Mongan to justice.
“They are now behind bars facing the consequences of their actions, and I hope that this case deters others from attempting to steal catalytic converters in Warrington or anywhere else in Cheshire.”
On top of their custodial sentences, Maughan and Mongan were each ordered to pay a £190 victim surcharge.
David Keane, the police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said: “It must be a very upsetting experience to discover that the catalytic converter has been stolen from your car by opportunist thieves.
“As the police and crime commissioner for the county, I know that Cheshire Constabulary is doing all that it can to tackle this increasingly common form of crime.
“I would like to congratulate the officers involved in this case for locating these offenders within hours of the thefts and for subsequently gathering enough evidence to secure the convictions.”
Inspector Anton Sullivan, of Cheshire Constabulary’s Roads and Crime Unit, added: “Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise across the country, with offenders predominantly targeting hybrid vehicles.
“I would like to reassure residents that we take reports of catalytic converter thefts extremely seriously and investigate them accordingly.
“This case is just one of many examples of us reacting swiftly to information supplied by members of the public regarding catalytic converter thefts and carrying out an extensive investigation in a bid to secure justice for the victims.
“Offenders use specialist tools to remove catalytic converters from vehicles.
“Car owners can play a significant role in tackling catalytic converter thefts by being vigilant, reviewing any security measures they have in place and calling the police on 101 as soon as possible if they see anyone removing catalytic converters or acting suspiciously in car parks, on driveways or anywhere else where vehicles are left.
“In addition, we urge scrap metal dealers to be mindful if they are ever offered catalytic converters or exhaust systems and to contact us if they suspect that they could have been stolen.”
Cheshire Constabulary’s tips on how motorists can reduce their chances of becoming a victim are:
- If possible, park your car in a garage
- If your car is at high risk, consider marking the metal shell of the converter with a unique mark, so that if it is stolen it will be easier to trace back to your vehicle
- If your catalytic converter is bolted on, the bolts can be welded shut – this would not stop a determined thief but would slow them down
- Giving some consideration to the way your car is parked could reduce the chances of your catalytic converter being stolen – high and low clearance vehicles being parked close together make it more difficult for a thief to gain access to converters
- Good quality lighting will improve natural surveillance and make a thief less likely to be able to remove a catalytic converter without being seen
- Leaving your car in an area covered by CCTV may also deter thieves – CCTV systems should be well signed.