A KNUTSFORD couple who run a used car business have a stressful Christmas ahead after being targeted by thieves for the third time since last year.

Jo and Matthew Carden, of Greenwing Motor Company, are counting the cost after catalytic converters were stolen from a Mitsubishi Shogun and Kia Sorento in the early hours of December 7.

The Tabley Hill Lane business, which specialises in four-wheel drive and sports cars, was also targeted in October 2012 and August 2011.

Jo said: “We came back in the morning to find every bolt of the car all over the place. It’s been very stressful, especially before Christmas.”

The cars were parked over railway sleepers to make access to the catalytic converters more difficult.

The thieves spent an hour and a half removing them as well as ripping off a protective metal plate on the Mitsubishi.

Jo added: “We were surprised how determined they were.

“It looks like they knew what they were doing, and there’s always the possibility they could come back another night, so we have to be on our guard.”

Catalytic converters are targeted due to their high scrap value and Jo said the ones stolen are worth between £1,200 and £1,400 new.

She said: “Those responsible are clearly selfish and don’t have any idea what impact it has on the business.

“If we have a customer interested in the car we can’t take them for a test drive or sell it.”

Jo and Matthew are now considering securing the business with a much higher fence, which could cost them up to £6,000.

Det Sgt Simon Mill, of Cheshire Police, said: “We would urge anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area to contact us.

“We would also urge people to be vigilant – anyone who spots something that doesn’t seem quite right should contact police.

“You might assume someone lying underneath a vehicle is just fixing it, but they could be stealing vehicle parts.

“Most people might not notice their catalytic converter is missing until the vehicle made a louder noise than usual, so regular checks should be made and anything suspicious should be reported.

“We would also ask scrap metal dealers to be mindful if they are offered a catalytic converter or exhaust system, and if in doubt, contact police.”

Anyone with information about the theft of the catalytic converters should contact Macclesfield burglary unit on 101, quoting incident number 254 of December 7.