WARRINGTON has seen the largest increase of catalytic converter thefts of any town or city in the country, according to a new study.

Research by comparethemarket.com found that there was one report of the car part being stolen in the town in 2018/19.

But this rose to 28 in 2019/20, an increase of 2,700 per cent.

The next largest rises came in Wolverhampton, with 1,475 per cent, and Coventry, with 652 per cent.

Inspector Anton Sullivan, of Cheshire Police’s roads and crime unit, said: “While these figures may sound concerning, it’s important that they are put into context.

“The number of reports of catalytic converter thefts in the Warrington area has increased from one in 2018/19 to 28 in 2019/20, which is still a relatively low figure.

“Organised gangs are targeting catalytic converters across the country.

“This is not an issue that is exclusive to Warrington and the wider Cheshire area.

“However, I would like to reassure residents that we are doing all we can to tackle catalytic converter thieves operating in Warrington or anywhere else in Cheshire – we respond to any report of a catalytic converter theft as a matter of urgency and ensure that a thorough investigation is subsequently carried out.

“In addition, we react swiftly to any information we receive regarding people suspected to be involved in the thefts of catalytic converters.

“We have made several arrests in relation to catalytic converter thefts in Cheshire over the past year and in some cases charges have been secured – we have also informed members of the public, via our website and social media platforms, of catalytic converters being targeted across Cheshire by thieves.

“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 or other areas 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.”