POLICE have issued a warning to motorists after an increase in catalytic converter thefts in the New Forest.

Hampshire Constabulary says this type of theft has increased since the beginning of October and there have been six catalytic converter thefts from these locations:

Woodgreen Common Road, Woodgreen

Waterloo Way, Ringwood

Addison Square, Ringwood

Testwood Lakes Centre, Brunel Road, Totton

Normandy Way, Fordingbridge

Forest Road, Nomansland

A police spokesperson said: "Catalytic converter theft is closely linked to prices of Rhodium and Palladium which are contained within the converters.

"The prices of these metals have increased during 2020 and this is what we believe has contributed to the number of thefts increasing.

"We are seeing that cat converters on hybrid Hondas and Toyotas are particularly vulnerable because their converters are cleaner and therefore the valuable metals contained within them are less likely to corrode. They are also easier to access on hybrid vehicles.

"Catalytic converters can be stolen within a few minutes by using just a few basic tools, but there are ways you can protect your vehicle if, like many people, you don’t have access to a garage."

• Find out where your catalytic converter is located on your car. If it is at the front of your car park with the bonnet towards a wall if possible

• If parking in a public car park consider parking alongside other cars and incorporating wall

• Avoid parking your vehicle half on the pavement and half on the road, as this may make it easier for get under your car

• If your catalytic converter is bolted on, you can ask for your local garage to weld the bolts to make it more difficult to remove

• Alternatively, you can also etch a serial number on the converter so that if it is stolen and then recovered, we can get your car converter back to you

• You can purchase a ‘cage clamp’ which is a cage device that locks in around the converter to make it more difficult to remove

• Speak to your dealership or garage about the possibility of adding a tilt sensor that will activate the alarm should any thief try to jack the vehicle up to steal the converter

• If you see someone acting suspiciously under a vehicle, report it. Obtain as much information as possible, including any vehicle registrations

• In the event your cat converter is stolen, please report online and include any markings so that we can identify your converter if it’s recovered

The police spokesperson added: "Our local neighbourhood policing teams in the New Forest are continuing to monitor reports and would like to ask local residents to report any suspicious activity."