Thefts occurred across the South West.

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Police in East Devon have arrested and charged a man with stealing catalytic converters following a spate of thefts across the South West area.

Tony Small, 29, from Hereford was arrested on July 4 and charged with six offences, two in Devon and Cornwall and four in Avon and Somerset.

He subsequently appeared before Yate Magistrates’ Court in September where he pleaded guilty to the thefts and asked for a further 97 offences to be taken in consideration.

Small was due to be sentenced on Friday, October 12.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Constabulary said: “Thefts of ‘Cats’ has become common place across the UK in recent times due to the high value of the precious metals that they contain.

“Over the past few months a number of offences have occurred within the Exeter, East and Mid Devon area and as a result officers in Honiton commenced an investigation.”

Small was identified through DNA evidence following the theft of the catalytic converter from a Peugeot van in Cullompton.

He was arrested and charged with several offences, but officers from an investigation team in East Devon continued their inquiries to link the suspect to other offences.

The spokesman said by utilising Automatic Number Plate Recognition data they placed the defendant at the scene of numerous further offences.

He said: “As a result, Small admitted a further 33 offences of theft in the Exeter, East and Mid Devon areas, 10 offences on British Transport premises at Tiverton Parkway, and a further 55 offences in the Avon and Somerset area.”

Constable Roy Hutter, who worked on the case, said “This investigation highlights the extent of metal thefts and the benefits of good cross border police liaison in tackling this type of crime.

“The success of this investigation followed good co-ordination between forces.”

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