CHEEKY thieves have taken to cutting parts from parked cars in bid to sell them for scrap metal.
As worldwide metal prices continue to rise, criminals on Wearside and Durham are going to increasingly drastic lengths.
Since the beginning of March there have been a string of incidents where crooks have crept under cars parked in busy public places and cut away pieces of metal.
The majority of the thefts have taken place during the day, often in front of passers-by.
While one of the offenders jacks-up the vehicle, the other cuts off the catalytic converters before they make off in a getaway car.
The most targeted cars in the region are Citroens, with several Picassos being hit.
Northumbria and Durham police are now urging motorists to be on their guard against the thieves.
Acting DCI Deborah Alderson, of Northumbria Police, said: “Anyone who owns one of these vehicles could be at risk. That’s why we’re raising awareness to this type of theft.
“We would urge people to report any suspicious behaviour to police, especially if they see cars jacked-up in the street by people using cutting-type equipment.
“Also, we want to hear from anyone who has been offered catalytic converters on the cheap or in bulk.”
Inspector Paul Anderson, of Durham Neighbourhood Policing Team, added: “These thefts have taken place at all times of the day, including midday in some busy locations, such as Durham Retail Park at Belmont and the Arnison Centre at Pity Me.
“These locations are very busy, with people attending shops, so I would ask if anyone sees anything suspicious please let us know.
“Someone may appear to be looking or working underneath a car in one of these public places.
“It only takes a short space of time to cut them off, so please, if anything appears suspicious or if it looks out of place contact the police or Crimestoppers.”
A dedicated team of officers from both forces are investigating the offences.
Anyone with information is asked to phone Northumbria Police on 03456 043 043 ex 69191 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.