POLICE are sending out a strong message to drivers after nearly 500 catalytic converter thefts have been carried out across Berkshire.

Since October 2019, more than 450 thefts of catalytic converts has been reported across Bracknell, Wokingham and Reading and surrounding areas.

Thieves have been mainly targetting Toyota Prius and Honda Jazz cars parked in large open air and multi-storey car parks, as well as residential roads too.

Detective superintendent Jim Weems, head of intelligence, said: “We take these offences very seriously and are working hard to catch offenders in the act and collaborating with partners to protect vulnerable areas.

"We are working closely with other police forces to ensure that anyone crossing our borders to commit crime has nowhere to hide.

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“We are sharing this video showing a theft taking place to highlight just how quickly these offences can occur and to demonstrate what to look out for. I would like to ask the public to work with us as extra eyes and ears in the community and to report anything that seems suspicious."

Investigators believe the thefts are linked together.

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

Bracknell News:

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

Thieves will use a car jack to the lift the car and cut the catalytic converter out, which only takes a couple of minutes.

Detective superintendent Jim Weems added: “If you believe you can see a theft taking place, always call the police on 999.

“Whilst we continue to investigate these incidents, there are some simple steps that you can take to reduce the risk of your vehicle being targeted.

“When parking in a car park, try to park with the front of your car against a wall and avoid parking at the end of a row. This makes it harder for offenders to gain access. When parking at home, where possible park in a garage or in a location that restricts access underneath your vehicle. You may also want to consider installing CCTV to protect your vehicle.

“You can identify or etch the catalytic converter with a unique serial number and advertise that the vehicle has been protected. If your catalytic converter is ‘bolt on,’ you can speak to a mechanic about having the bolts welded shut.

“If you have any information about this spate of thefts, please contact us using our online form or by calling 101. Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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'.