A gang of thieves who stole a catalytic converter from a family car are still at large, a Falmouth man has warned.

The incident took place in the early hours of Thursday morning, when three men jacked up Jason Gallaway’s Toyota Prius in The Beacon.

“The car is virtually a write-off now, because they have ripped the wires to the sensors when they took it off the catalytic converter for the precious metals inside it,” he said.

Mr Gallaway believes that the gang also stole another converter from a Toyota in Wodehouse Terrace on the same night.

A replacement part would cost more than £1,200, but the sensor wires also have to be replaced.

“It’s an old car – 2005 – but I’ve grown emotionally attached to it since we bought it around three years ago. It was in mint condition then and we’ve really looked after it.”

More expense was incurred by the theft because Jason was due to travel to London on the following day to pick up his son, whose university has closed down by the coronavirus outbreak.

“I’ve had to pay for a train ticket instead now. The car is just sat outside the house, ready to go, but with no exhaust,” he said.

One of the gang members may have made a stupid mistake however, when he decided to walk up the path towards the house to use a brick to prop up the car.

Jason has a CCTV camera on his house and a clear picture of one of the men was captured.

The father of three, who has recently started a new job with bus company OTS Falmouth after three years without work, added: “Finally I’ve found a job and this is how I’m repaid. The car’s destroyed and it’s heartbreaking for me.”

The theft operation appears to be a well-rehearsed one, with one of the men driving, another operating the jack and the third ripping off the catalytic converter.

Mr Gallaway added that a Snows Toyota dealership in Plymouth has also been attacked recently and around 15 converters were stolen in one hit.

He believes that the offenders are a “foreign gang” from the mid-Cornwall area.

A spokesman from Devon & Cornwall Police said: “Police are investigating the theft of catalytic converters from two vehicles in Falmouth.

"The converters were taken from a Toyota Prius at The Beacon and another vehicle in Wodehouse Terrace. The incidents happened overnight Wednesday/Thursday.

"The Prius converter was worth around £1,300 and the second around £800."

"Police are appealing to anyone with information about the thefts to contact them via 101@dc.police.uk or by telephone on 101, quoting crime reference CR/023978/20 (The Beacon) or CR/023777/20 (Wodehouse).”