Police are offering free security marking kits for catalytic converters after more of the devices have been stolen in the area.

Hertsmere officers have funded the kits from Hertsmere Borough Council and have partnered with Kwik-Fit in Elstree Way, Borehamwood, who have offered to fit them for free.

The catalytic converter will be etched with a unique serial number to make it easily identifiable if stolen, and warning stickers will be displayed on the windows of the vehicle to act as a deterrent to thieves.

Catalytic converters are fitted to a vehicle’s exhaust system and contain precious metals such as platinum, copper and nickel.

Hertsmere officers say the devices, which can cost up to £1,200 to replace, have become a more common target for thieves.

Figures revealed earlier this month showed that 20 of the devices were stolen in Watford between August 8 and September 19 this year, but that number had only been two during the same time frame in 2018.

PCSO Samantha O’Grady, from the Borehamwood and Elstree Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “This is a great opportunity to secure your vehicle.

“We’ve seen a massive spike in catalytic converter thefts across the county recently, and it’s worth taking extra measures to help deter opportunist thieves.”

The offer of free security markings will last from today (October 21) to Sunday, October 27.

It will take roughly an hour to fit, with there being no need to pre-book.

Kwik-Fit is open from 8.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has also offered the following advice for avoiding thefts of catalytic converters:

• If you are unable to lock your car in a garage when parked at night, we recommend that where possible you park your vehicle by reversing against a wall or fence and park as close to the kerb as possible as this will make it difficult for thieves to access the catalytic converter.

• If you leave your car in a car park overnight, be sure to look for one with a Secured Car Park sign, as this means it will have recognised levels of security.

• If you leave your car on your street, or in your drive, consider installing CCTV cameras as they will deter thieves.

• You can also get your catalytic converter forensically marked, get protective coverings fitted on it, or have the bolts securing it in place welded to make removal more difficult.

Anyone with information regarding catalytic converter theft can report it online at herts.police.uk/report or call the non-emergency number 101.

Alternatively Crimestoppers can be called anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report information online at crimestoppers-uk.org.