THOUSANDS of pounds worth of catalytic converters have been stolen from cars across the New Forest.

Police have issued a warning after thefts in the Ringwood, Lymington, Ashurst, Hythe, Totton and Blackfield areas.

The converters, which control exhaust emissions, contain metals Rhodium and Palladium and the prices of the metals have increased since last year.

Police believe this is the reason for the increase in thefts.

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Police in north Dorset have also warned motorists after thefts in the Shaftesbury, Sturminster Newton and Sixpenny Handley areas.

Converters can be stolen in a few minutes using a few basic tools so New Forest Heart cops have issued some basic crime prevention advice.

Those who do not have access to a garage are urged to find out where their catalytic converter is located on their car.

If it is at the front, park your car with the bonnet towards a wall where possible and vice versa if it is at the back.

Avoid parking half on the pavement because it makes it easier for people to get underneath the vehicle and consider asking your local garage to weld the bolts on to make it more difficult to remove.

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Serial numbers should be noted and anyone who sees anyone acting suspiciously under a vehicle should report it to police.

A spokesman said: "Our local neighbourhood policing teams 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.

"As always, if a crime is in progress, please dial 999."