Single Leyland mum's despair as thieves in Preston steal her catalytic convertor leaving her carless
and live on Freeview channel 276
40-year-old Claire Gregan, a Counselling and Psychological interventions first year student at the University of Central Lancashire, had her catalytic converter stolen whilst her car was parked at the university’s paid car park on Fylde Road, Preston last Monday, November 9.
When she turned her engine on after her lecture, Claire heard a “horrific noise”, but only realised the crime had taken place when she took the car to her usual garage for help, where she was informed someone had stolen her catalytic converter, with the high value metals found in them usually being sold on or melted down for cash.
Claire reported the crime to the police, who told her to contact UCLan’s security department. Footage captured from the university shows the perpetrators taking only three minutes to take her car to pieces underneath, all happening just 10 minutes before Claire returned.
Claire, who previously worked as a court usher, and in HR, said: “I've had an awful week, I've been in tears, because they're not just committing that crime, it’s not ‘oh its just a car, I’ll get it fixed’, I'm on my own with my children, I’m trying to better myself, I’m at university. I worked at Crown Court, so I'm used to hearing stories, I understand people have problems, I understand people are struggling, I'd give my last penny to anyone if I could, but that crime to me, they may as well have come in and ransacked my house because I need that to get my children from A to B, for swimming, for rugby, I need it to get to uni, and then I have an 86 year old grandma who's only got one leg that I have to take shopping, take to hospital appointments, and they just they just kind of took everything from me, my car is my lifeline. I don't have much, but that’s one thing I did have, and they just took it and leave so much destruction and they don't realise that.”
For a new catalytic converter, Claire received an estimate of £780 but says “"I haven't got £800 just sat there, especially with the cost of living now”. Then if Claire claims on the insurance for the theft instead, she is also unable to afford the £450 excess fee and the fact her insurance would double.
Her garage has offered to buy the car, without the catalytic converter, for half its price, but without a car, Claire has to rely on the kindness of friends and family for transportation until her student loan comes in in January.
Claire added: “But I'm still in the mess because that student finance is my wage for the next four months, so I'm going to be down £250/300 a week.
“And so either way its like I’m being financially punished, whichever direction I look at because of what they've done to me.
“I'm speaking out to raise awareness that it is going on, it's rife at the minute and the police aren't voicing that. And also to reach out to these people, if one of them just thought ‘God actually, this does really affect people’. When it first happened, the police said they’d probably been watching for a couple of weeks, seeing who's coming and going, what time you drop your car off, what time you come back to it, and then you're a young woman, you're on your own, and you're looking at everybody and thinking, was it you? Was it you? And then you’re thinking, do they know what I looked like? How long were they watching me for? It just makes you feel so vulnerable, and such a victim. It's an awful feeling, and they just don't realise what they're doing to people when they commit these crimes, whether it be, an assault, a burglary or a car crime.”
A family member has set up a GoFundMe to help Claire, with any money raised being used to fill in the shortfall that buying a replacement car would leave, which you can donate to here.
Lancashire Police said: “We were called on November 9 to a report of a theft of a catalytic converter from a car on Fylde Road, Preston, on November 7. Enquiries are continuing. Anyone with information is asked to contact 101, quoting log 0436 of November 9.”