POLICE officers visited Harwich International Port in a bid to tackle stolen goods leaving the country.

Officers from the Rural Engagement Team spent time at the Port as part of a week of action to tackle catalytic converter theft.

PC Jed Raven said: “Working with our partners from the Border Force, Stena Line, and also the Port authority, we checked outgoing vehicles for stolen metal, catalytic converters, vehicles and plants, such as tractors, trailers, and caravans.

“As we saw, there were engines, cars, and car parts, and we wanted to make sure what was going out of the country was safe for other people to use.”

As part of a wider effort, officers visited 34 scrapyards and vehicle dismantlers in a bid to tackle the crimes.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Police have visited 34 scrapyardsPolice have visited 34 scrapyards

They worked with business owners and staff to disrupt and deter criminal activity around the buying and selling or stolen metals, particularly catalytic converters.

The precious metal in catalytic converters has led to an increase in their theft, not just in Essex but across the country.

Officers gave guidance and direction on what a dealer should do if they suspect someone is trying to sell them stolen metals and the signs to look out for.

Inspector Terry Jacobs, from the Local Policing Support Unit said: "The impact of catalytic converter theft is a costly one for the victim.

"Without a converter, your vehicle will become unusable and produce too many emissions, making it illegal to drive on the road.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: A catalytic converterA catalytic converter

"As we see the value of these precious metals increase, we see reports of catalytic converter theft grow and work is ongoing to tackle this throughout Essex.

"There are already laws in place around the buying and selling of scrap metal and we are pleased to report all the scrap metal dealers we visited last week were operating lawfully, with no issues to report.

"We will continue to carry out unannounced visits on scrap metal dealers and make it clear there is no place in Essex for handling stolen scrap metal.

"Officers will also ensure compliance around legislation requirements placed upon scrap metal dealers.

"By working with local businesses we can ensure thieves don't have anywhere to sell stolen metals and therefore reduce the appeal of this crime.”

Mr Jacobs explained vehicle owners can make it harder for catalytic converter thieves to carry out their task.

He advised speaking to your car dealer about advice on locks or guards approved by the vehicle manufacture.

Also, you can also register your converter and mark it with a forensic marker, which will make is harder for thieves to dispose of.