POLICE have issued advice to drivers in Southampton after a spate of incidents involving the theft of catalytic converters.

More than 20 have been stolen since the start of the month, with most of the crimes occurring in four parts of the city - Bassett, Coxford, Millbrook and Redbridge.

Catalytic converters contain two valuable metals, rhodium and palladium, the cost of which increased during 2020.

Police say hybrid Hondas and Toyotas are particularly vulnerable because their converters are cleaner, which means the metals inside them are less likely to corrode.

"Catalytic converters can be stolen within a few minutes by using 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," said a police spokesperson.

"Find out where your cat converter is located on your car.

"If it's at the front park with the bonnet towards a wall if possible. If it's at the back, park with your exhaust to the wall.

"Avoid parking half on the pavement and half on the road as this may make it easier for thieves to get under your car.

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

"You can even purchase a ‘cage clamp’, a device which makes converters more difficult to remove."

The spokesperson said drivers could ask their garage or dealership to fit a tilt sensor, which activated an alarm if anyone tried to jack the vehicle up to steal the converter.

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

The local neighbourhood policing teams in your area are monitoring reports and would like to ask people to report any suspicious activity."

As reported in the Daily Echo, victims of converter thefts include student nurse Emily Owen, 20, who was left feeling "helpless and frustrated" after the device was stolen.

She said: "I went to start my car and it sounded very loud, like a motorbike.

"I looked underneath and saw the exhaust had been cut and the converter stolen. This will be hundreds of pounds to sort out."