HAMPSHIRE residents are being warned to keep an eye on their cars, after a rise in thieves targeting vehicles to steal catalytic converters.

Crimestoppers has launched a campaign to tackle the spike in crime in the county.

This comes as a vehicle was targeted in Ashdown Way, Romsey, just after 12pm on Wednesday (April 21), according to a Facebook post from Test Valley Cops.

The week-long campaign, supported by the Neighbourhood Watch Network, will reach out to people who know or suspect individuals involved in this offence.

It’s reminding residents they can contact Crimestoppers “100 per cent anonymously” with information they may have.

The rising value of precious metals found in catalytic converters, means things like rhodium and palladium, are often more expensive than gold, with converters selling for as much as £500 on the black market.

And the demand to replace stolen catalytic converters with cheaper second-hand ones has increased, the charity believes.

A catalytic converter is located in a car’s exhaust system and cleans gases before they leave an exhaust pipe - cars must have one by law.

Emily van der Lely, Hampshire & IOW Regional Manager at Crimestoppers, said thieves are taking advantage of cars being parked at home for longer while more people work from home.

She said: “With an increase in people working from home or being furloughed because of the pandemic, thieves are taking full advantage of this, as more cars are parked in driveways or on the street during the day. We know there have been cases where criminals, who work very quickly, have threatened victims who have tried to confront them and some drivers have been repeatedly targeted. We know it can be difficult to speak up about crime, especially if it’s about someone you know. Remember you can speak to Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously and you will be doing the right thing, to keep your community safe from crime.”

John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch Network, said: “With catalytic converter theft on the rise it is important we remain vigilant about where we park our cars and what is going on around us. Whenever possible, we encourage you to park your car in busy, well-lit areas, or areas with CCTV coverage. It can take as little as 60 seconds for thieves to steal a catalytic converter, so keep an eye out for your neighbour’s vehicles, and if you suspect anything suspicious report it to the charity Crimestoppers anonymously.”

Anyone who has information on the Romsey crime should phone 101 with reference 44210150339.