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Man pleads guilty to 103 catalytic converter thefts across Westcountry

By This is Devon  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

Police in East Devon have arrested and charged a man with thefts of catalytic converters following a spate across the South West.

Tony Small, aged 29 and from Hereford, was arrested on July 4.

Following an interview he was charged with six offences of theft of catalytic converters, (two in Devon & Cornwall and four in Avon & Somerset) and he subsequently appeared before Yate Magistrates Court on September 20,

He pleaded guilty to the thefts and asked for a further 97 offences to be taken in consideration.

He will be sentenced on Friday, October 12 at Yate Magistrates Court.

A police spokesperson said: "Thefts of ‘Cats’ has become common place across the UK in recent times due to the high value of the precious metals that they contain. Over the past few months a number of offences have occurred within the Exeter, East & Mid Devon area and as a result officers in Honiton commenced an investigation."

The arrest of Small followed one particular offence which occurred in Cullompton in June of this year when a catalytic converter was stolen from a Peugeot van.

Following forensic examination DNA evidence was recovered from the van which identified Small as a suspect.

He was further linked to another theft, also in Cullompton on the same day.

He was subsequently arrested and charged with both offences and four further thefts in Bristol.

However officers from the Local Investigation Team in Exeter, East & Mid Devon continued their investigation and worked hard to link the suspect to other offences.

By utilising ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) data they placed Small at the scene of numerous further offences.

Further ANPR work in conjunction with the neighbouring Avon & Somerset force led to Small, being linked with other thefts.

As a result, Small admitted a further 33 offences of theft in the Exeter, East and Mid Devon areas, 10 offences on British Transport premises at Tiverton Parkway and a further 55 offences in the Avon & Somerset area.

The Officer in case Police Constable Roy Hutter commented, “This investigation highlights the extent of metal thefts and the benefits of good cross border police liaison in tackling this type of crime. The success of this investigation followed good co-ordination between forces”.

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