CAR owners are being warned to be vigilant after a spate of thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles parked overnight on drives in Halesowen.

In the latest incident, thieves used metal cutters to remove the converter from a Peugeot Partner Combi which was on the drive of a house in The Hawnelands in the Belle Vale area.

Owner Mick Freer said a neighbour spotted a man aged about 20 get out of a car at around 3.50am last Saturday and go towards the car.

The neighbour assumed he was one of Mr Freer’s sons, but they now believe he was the culprit.

The driver stayed in the car, described as a blue or green Citroen Picasso, while the man who sneaked up the drive was wearing a woollen hat.

The neighbour noted part of the registration number – KS55 – and Mr Freer is hoping someone will recognise it and contact the police.

The theft has left him without a vehicle for several days and a £1,000 repair bill.

Mr Freer, who is secretary of the Halesowen Abbey Trust, said: “I guess the scrap metal value will be about £50 and they will sell it to an unscrupulous dealer.

“I thought it was important to let people know how quickly these can be removed from vehicles and how vulnerable cars parked on drives are.

“I would urge people to be extra vigilant and to watch out for this car driving round in the daytime looking for targets.

“They seem to favour fairly high vehicles like mine or 4x4s which they can get underneath quickly.”

Two converters were stolen from cars in neighbouring Carol Crescent and one from Broomfield Street earlier this year and Sgt Heather Sloan, of the Belle Vale neighbourhood police team confirmed there had been a spate prior to the recent bad weather.

She said as part of Operation Bosscat victims and car owners living in the vicinity had been offered the opportunity to have their catalytic converters marked at the town’s Vauxhall garage in Dudley Road.

Sgt Sloan added: “Scrap metal dealers are supposed to use ultra violet light to scan any offered to them to confirm ownership. Marked vehicles display a sticker which acts as a deterrent to thieves.”