THIEVES have struck in Sutton Scotney to steal a catalytic converter from a car.

The engine parts are being targeted across the area because of the valuable metals they contain.

The victim in Sutton Scotney, who asked not to be named, said: "I was totally shocked. The car was parked outside my house.

"The AA man told me it was targeted because of its make and model and because it was parked in a relatively secluded, dark area.

"He said the thieves would have driven around, scouting out the area. His advice was to park on my drive in future where the car can be seen from my house.The thieves sell the catalytic converters for about £150 each for scrap metal but my car could cost several thousands to repair, fortunately covered by my car insurance.

"The AA is trying to get the law changed to make this trade in catalytic converters illegal.

"I had heard mens' voices outside at about midnight and thought it odd but didn't investigate. The AA man, who was very helpful, said from CCTV footage he had seen of similar incidents, two thieves jack up the car and cut off the catalytic converter, while a third keeps lookout armed with a crowbar. So best not to confront the criminal gangs. He said Toyotas and Hondas are most at risk of having catalytic converters stolen in this way."

The theft of catalytic converters is one of the fastest rising crimes in the country, with the number of devices stolen reportedly rising six-fold in the last year. Thieves are after three precious metals found inside the devices, the prices of which have skyrocketed in the last few years.