Only one of three men described by police as “dangerous individuals” are behind bars for stealing catalytic converters. The other two received suspended sentences and walked free from court; a fourth unnamed suspect remains at large.
The sentences follow a night of high drama across Ely and surrounding villages as 999 calls alerted police to a gang of catalytic converter thieves operating in the area. At one stage one of the gang jumped from a car and ran towards a police car smashing the windscreen with a metal pole.
A video of the arrests and their capture has been released by Cambridgeshire Police. One was caught hiding in a wheelie bin, another in a recycling bin on a playing field and the third in the back garden of a house.
“These three men are dangerous individuals, as you can see from the footage captured in our vehicles, and it’s lucky that no one has been seriously injured,” said one of the investigating officers PC James Good.
Police said they took multiple 999 calls on the evening of 23 March reporting men stealing catalytic converters from vehicles parked along Kingsley Walk in Ely. Officers from the Road Policing Unit went to the area and using information provided by the callers managed to locate the suspects’ vehicle in Haddenham heading towards Stretham.
The vehicle initially failed to stop and when it did all four doors opened and four men got out. Three made off and one ran towards the police car with a metal pole, hitting the windscreen which caused glass to shatter in the officer’s face.
A second police vehicle was also hit by the man and the officer used his vehicle to strike him and prevent further attacks, but he too made off. In the boot of the abandoned car, officers found two stolen catalytic converters matching those taken from Kingsley Walk. The police helicopter was deployed, and the area flooded with officers.
Danny Stone-Parker, 33, of Sunflower Street, Cambridge, was found hiding in a recycling bin on Stretham recreation ground. Spencer Butler, 44, of Midland Road, Sandy, was found hiding in a wheelie bin on Short Road, Stretham. Joe Loveridge, 24, of Tottenhoe Road, Dunstable, was found in the back garden of a home in Short Road.
At Peterborough Crown Court yesterday (21 September), 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 24 April. He was disqualified from driving for nine months.
Butler and Loveridge were sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
PC Good 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. I hope this sentence provides some satisfaction to those who have been a victim of catalytic converter theft.”
Below are catalytic converter figures from January – June 2023.
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