NEW Forest residents are being warned to be vigilant after a number of thefts of catalytic converters.

Hampshire Constabulary says there have been reports of catalytic converters stolen from vehicles in recent weeks in Poulner as well as New Milton and Lymington.

A statement issued by the police force 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 since 2020 and this is what we believe has contributed to the number of thefts increasing.

"They can be stolen within a few minutes by using just a few basic tools."

The following security advice has been issued:

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

• If it’s at the back, park it with your exhaust to the wall

• 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 even 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 catalytic converter is stolen, report online via Hampshire Constbulary's website and include any markings so it can be identified if recovered by officers.

The statement 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 to us directly by calling 101, or by reporting it to us via our online reporting tool on the Hampshire Constabulary website. As always, if a crime is in progress, please dial 999."

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