Cat burglars steal precious metals from Bispham vans

Lynda Mather, company director at Bispham Van Hire, is unhappy after exhausts were stolen from new vans while they were on hire
Lynda Mather, company director at Bispham Van Hire, is unhappy after exhausts were stolen from new vans while they were on hire

Unscrupulous thieves are targeting vans and minibuses for their exhausts and catalytic converters.

Bispham Van Hire and Booth Dispensers are among the businesses that have had vehicles damaged in recent weeks at a cost of thousands of pounds.

Police said a total of five vans and two minibuses have been targeted by thieves looking to cash in on the precious metals contained in the parts, such as platinum.

Dave Lindsay, general manager at Bispham Van Hire, said: “It’s thoughtless. They want to make a quick buck and they don’t realise or don’t care about the impact it has on other people. It’s putting jobs in jeopardy.”

And Nick Hatchett, stores and transport supervisor at Booth Dispensers, in Moor Park Avenue, Bispham, said: “It’s the inconvenience of having two vehicles off the road. We can’t get hold of any more catalytic converters until December. It’s a nightmare.”

PC Martin Clarke, from Bispham police station, said leaflets could now be given out warning other businesses to take extra precautions following the recent spate.

He added: “I have asked that extra patrols are tasked with patrolling the area of Bristol Avenue and Kincraig Road, and monitor any suspicious vehicles in the area, and stop and search them.”

Stuart Crane, director of estates at Blackpool and The Fylde College, said: “Two of the college’s minibuses were targeted, and a quantity of copper piping was taken at our Bispham campus. We have comprehensive CCTV footage and have passed footage to police.”

A CATS scam

Catalytic converters – or CATS for short – turn toxic gases into a less harmful pollution through a chemical reaction.

Platinum is ‘particularly effective’ at doing this, especially in diesel powered vehicles, Dr Stan Golunski, technology manager at the UK-based Johnson Matthey Technology Centre said.

There are between three and seven grams of platinum in a standard converter, it was estimated by firm Specialty Metals, with a gram worth around £25 according to current estimates.

Vans are often seen as easier targets by thieves than cars.