Police in Ludgershall have appealed for witnesses after an alleged attempted theft of a catalytic converter last month.

In the incident, residents of a property in Astor Crescent in Ludgershall confronted three men who Wiltshire Police said “appeared to be attempting to steal a catalytic converter from their car” on August 14.

This followed them being awoken at 11:30pm on hearing a loud noise coming from outside their property, with the residents reportedly seeing three masked men interfering with their Mazda MX5.

Police said that on being disturbed, the suspects made off at speed in a white BMW 1 series car.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact Wiltshire Police on 101, quoting log 54210079678.

Across the UK, there has been a 600 per cent increase in thefts of catalytic converters in the past year.

The devices, which break down harmful gases such as carbon monoxide in exhaust fumes into less harmful ones. To do this, they use the precious metals Rhodium and Palladium as a catalyst to achieve the reactions.

The prices of these metals has risen over the past year, though prices have fallen more recently. At the time of writing, a gram of Rhodium is worth around £449.

Police advise a number of steps to keep catalytic converters safe, including the installation of locks or guards approved by the vehicle manufacturer and tested to Sold Secure Gold.

They also recommend members of the public try to make sure their vehicle is parked in a garage overnight or in a secure compound.

If this isn’t possible, then drivers should park in an area that’s well-lit and overlooked, and try to park so that the converter can’t be easily reached by potential thieves. Vehicles that sit high above the road are particularly vulnerable.

Officers add that car owners should also register their converter and mark it with a forensic marker, which will make it harder for thieves to dispose of.