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Ipswich family’s car written off after catalytic converter theft

PUBLISHED: 05:30 28 July 2020

Avril Higgs went to her car on Sunday morning to go to work, only to find her catalytic converter had been cut out. Picture: AVRIL HIGGS

Avril Higgs went to her car on Sunday morning to go to work, only to find her catalytic converter had been cut out. Picture: AVRIL HIGGS

Archant

A family of five in Ipswich have been left counting costs they cannot afford after the catalytic converter was cut out of their car.

Avri Higgs and her husband Lateef Lawal live in Ipswich with their three children. Picture: AVRIL HIGGSAvri Higgs and her husband Lateef Lawal live in Ipswich with their three children. Picture: AVRIL HIGGS

Avril Higgs lives in Westbourne with her husband Lateef and their three young children, a son aged six and twin boys aged three, relying on one family car to get to work, nursery and school.

The 36-year-old was shocked when she started up her car for work on Sunday, July 26, at 6.15am only to hear a noise like an aeroplane engine coming out of her Ford Galaxy seven-seater.

“It was so noisy my husband could hear it in the living room,” she said.

“We took a look and it had been cut clean out of the car. When we took it to the garage the mechanic said he could only just about fit a temporary pipe as they’d barely left any room to attach it.

The family will struggle to pay for a new car as they just paid a £2,000 fee as part of Lateef's Further Leave to Remain visa. Picture: AVRIL HIGGSThe family will struggle to pay for a new car as they just paid a £2,000 fee as part of Lateef's Further Leave to Remain visa. Picture: AVRIL HIGGS

“They don’t even make the parts for that car anymore so it’s a complete write off.”

Ms Higgs said she informed her insurance company and was told they would take the car for an evaluation but she would still have to pay the £150 excess fee and the rest of the year’s insurance.

She estimates the 2007 car, bought for £2,000, will only fetch between £500 and £1,000 – not enough to cover the cost of a new one.

MORE: Police warning as catalytic converter thefts continue

Avril Higgs has been told her Ford Galaxy seven-seater is written off as the replacement catalytic converters for it are not produced any more.  Picture: AVRIL HIGGSAvril Higgs has been told her Ford Galaxy seven-seater is written off as the replacement catalytic converters for it are not produced any more. Picture: AVRIL HIGGS

The theft is one of a string to have hit the county this year. In February more than 35 incidents were reported to Suffolk police over four weeks.

In June, three cars were targeted in the car park of West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, six thefts have been reported in Haverhill over the past three weeks and between July 7-22 ten were stolen from vehicles in the Ipswich area.

They are valuable because they contain metals including copper, nickel, cerium, iron, manganese and rhodium.

Ms Higgs said she would now need to get a new car or find a catalytic converter replacement before her MOT later in the year.

She said she relied on the car to get her children to nursery and school and to get to work in Ipswich, where she is an out of hours call manager for a health care company.

The theft meant the family were going to have to cancel or move a recently booked holiday.

“We also just paid a £2,000 fee for my husband’s Further Leave to Remain visa as he’s from Nigeria so we really don’t have the money right now,” she added.

MORE: Catalytic converters stolen from cars parked at hospital

Suffolk police has asked vehicle owners to remain vigilant by:

• Keeping private vehicles parked in secure garages where possible and if no garage is available, in a well-lit public area.

• Keep commercial vehicles in a locked building or compound.

• Use alarms, lighting and CCTV to deter thieves.

The catalytic converter can also be marked by etching the vehicle registration onto the metal shell or by using a Secured by Design (SBD) approved forensic marking solution – which is heat-resistant.


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