Men who stole catalytic converters in Cambridgeshire have been sentenced after they were caught during a night-time chase that culminated in two of them hiding in bins in a failed attempt to evade police armed with Tasers.
A police car was attacked with a metal pole and the force helicopter was deployed during the operation, which was captured on police body camera footage and led to three people being charged.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary took multiple 999 calls on the evening of March 23 reporting men stealing catalytic converters from vehicles parked along Kingsley Walk in Ely.
Officers from the road policing unit used the information to locate the suspects’ vehicle in Haddenham, heading towards Stretham.
The vehicle initially failed to stop but when it did, all four doors flung open and four men got out. Three fled, while the fourth ran towards the police car with a metal pole, which he used to smash the windscreen, causing glass to shatter in an officer’s face.
The man also struck a second police car, but an officer used his vehicle to strike the assailant, who then fled.
Police found two stolen catalytic converters in the boot of the abandoned car, and these matched those taken from Kingsley Walk.
The force then flooded the area with officers and deployed the helicopter to track down the suspects.
Danny Stone-Parker, 33, of Sunflower Street, Cambridge, was found hiding in a recycling bin on Stretham recreation ground. Police.
Spencer Butler, 44, of Midland Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire, was found hiding in a wheelie bin on Short Road, Stretham. Officers pointed Tasers at the bin as they lifted a lid and told him to put his hands up.
Joe Loveridge, 24, of Tottenhoe Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, was found in the back garden of a home in Short Road.
At Peterborough Crown Court last Thursday (September 21), Stone-Parker was sentenced to 18 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to two counts of theft from a motor vehicle. He also pleaded guilty to the theft of irrigation piping worth almost £8,000 from Swaffham Prior on April 24. He was disqualified from driving for nine months.
Butler and Loveridge were sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years after pleading guilty to two counts of theft from a motor vehicle.
PC James Good, who investigated, said: “At its height, catalytic converters were being stolen at an average of twice a day. The sheer number of thefts and the violence being used to steal them meant catalytic converter theft was made a force priority and a dedicated team were put in place to catch those responsible.
“It is a fact that since their arrest in March, catalytic converter theft has decreased significantly across the county.”
PC Good added that it was “lucky” no one was “seriously injured” in the incident, adding: “I hope this sentence provides some satisfaction to those who have been a victim of catalytic converter theft.”
Catalytic converter theft was a major problem in the county in the early months of the year, but has declined considerably following the police crackdown.
In January, there were 121 catalytic converter thefts across Cambridgeshire, with a further 111 in February and 68 in March. This fell to six in April, four in May and three in June.
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