Drivers in Kent are being told to be vigilant after dozens of catalytic converters thefts in the county.

Since August there have been 173 successful or attempted thefts, including 34 in Sevenoaks, 21 in Canterbury and 21 in Medway.

The components contain metals which can be used for jewellery and other high-tech products.

Thieves cash in by stealing the converters - which are used to reduce harmful emissions - from underneath vehicles before stripping them for the materials inside.

Tips to protect your vehicle against catalytic converter thieves

  • Purchase a clamp or security cage that can protect a catalytic converter making it harder to steal

  • Park in a garage, or if not, in a well-lit area

  • Consider installing CCTV

  • Register the shell of the converter to make it easier to trace if stolen

  • CCTV captures three thieves who broke into an industrial unit Harrietsham near Maidstone

Two catalytic converters were stolen from a business park in Harrietsham near Maidstone last Thursday night

Three people were caught on CCTV cameras carrying out the thefts.

Joanna Watts works at double glazing company in the unit.

Thieves went up to their van but were deterred by the CCTV camera and flood lighting. She said,

"They were so brazen not a care in the world. It's shocking. We have multiple cameras covering the site but they just did not care."

Detective Superintendent Mark Weller of Kent Police said,

"Kent Police is committed to tackling this type of crime and we therefore encourage residents to be vigilant and report anything to us straight away, including anybody seen acting suspiciously around vehicles, while we seek to identify those people responsible for these thefts."