A spate of catalytic converter thefts in Dartford and Medway promoted Kent Police to issue safety advice today (April 11).

Kent Police said that 29 catalytic converters had bee stolen in the area since the start of 2019.

Dartford and Medway were reported to be the main areas affected by the spate of automotive thefts, but police said that Gravesham, Swale and Maidstone had also seen a number of such incidents.

Catalytic converters are components attached to car exhausts that help regulate emissions of the vehicle.

They are often made using alloys that include precious metals such as platinum.

Police advice said that older vehicles were more likely to contain such metals as newer manufacturing guidelines resulted in less vehicles now being fitted with highly valuable metal.

Sergeant Dan Horsley of the Kent Police north division Community Safety Unit said: "Changes made by manufactures to deter thieves are reflected in the vehicles we see being targeted today.

"In more than half the offences Toyota Prius vehicles, made between 2006 and 2007, have been targeted. Victims have also reported a number of thefts from Honda models from 2000 and 2005."

Sgt. Horsley added that the police were working with scrap metal dealers in order to tackle the problem and urged the public in the worst-affected areas to stay vigilant.

Sgt. Horsley said: "We are continuing to work hard to deter and reduce the number of these crimes. This includes working closely with scrap metal dealers, to make it easier to trace sellers of stolen metal and also identify any dealers who operate illegally.

"We are also asking residents to play their part, by remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious behaviour."

Kent Police advised car owners to try and keep vehicles in a garage whenever possible, or park in busy, well-lit areas.

Drivers can also security mark and register the metal shell of the converter so if stolen and recovered, it will be easier to trace.

Kent Police said: "Mark or etch it with the vehicle registration number, or serial number, and consider fitting a catalytic converter clamp or security cage to protect it."