POLICE are urging motorists to be vigilant following a recent increase in thefts of catalytic converters across Somerset.

Avon and Somerset Police said in the last six months they have seen a rise in these types of thefts at park and rides in North Somerset, Bath, Bristol and Taunton.

They are now urging people to get in touch with them if they see anyone acting suspiciously around a vehicle.

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said:"Catalytic converters are attractive to thieves due to the current high prices of the metals inside them, and because they are relatively quick and easy to steal.

"Hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius, which have more valuable catalytic converters, are particularly likely to be targeted."

Neighbourhood police teams are carrying out targeted patrols of the affected areas and officers have also been visiting local scrap merchants to remind them of their responsibilities.

Under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, dealers must request photographic identification and proof of address from people selling scrap to them. The law also bars cash payments for scrap.

If you see someone acting suspiciously around a vehicle, report it to police on 101.

To help the police try to provide a vehicle registration/make/model and colour of the vehicle, and a description of the suspects.

If you witness a crime in progress, call 999.

You can help to deter thieves by:

• Parking your vehicle in a secure garage overnight or somewhere that makes it difficult for thieves to access its underside

• Parking where neighbours and passers-by could see anyone tampering with the vehicle

• Installing motion activated security lighting or CCTV

• Marking your catalytic converter with a commercially-available etching kit or fitting a ‘cat’ clamp or alarm. This can also help police trace the item and prove a theft, helping us bring offenders to justice.