POLICE have called the latest crime spree of catalytic converter thefts in the area an 'epidemic' problem.

A warning from Thames Valley Police for Bracknell and Ascot residents called on drivers to be alert to suspicious activity.

It comes after a string of thefts in recent weeks of thieves targeting cars for the precious metal.

Catalytic converters contain small amounts of the precious metals platinum, palladium and rhodium which can be sold at high prices.

The warning said: "There is an epidemic across the Thames Valley.

"Another four [catalytic converters stolen on Tuesday, mainly in Maidenhead, but one in Ascot. More on Wednesday and Thursday.

"The cars targeted - Honda Jazz, Honda Civic, Toyota Prius and now Lexus as well."

Five catalytic converters were reported stolen in Bracknell earlier this month in just one day, in roads including Great Hollands, Underwood and Ringmead.

The most recent was on Thursday around 9am when a catalytic converter was stolen from 6/1 a Lexus RX400 in Gainsborough Drive, Ascot.

Drivers are urged to weld on bolted converters, consider CCTV, and put a unique serial number on it.

The force also said to 'always park in rearwards against a wall/garage door to make it harder for the thieves to jack the rear of the car up and get underneath'.