DRIVERS of all Ford cars are being offered security screws for their radios after a crime wave sparked by an urban myth.

Word spread through the criminal fraternity that microchips used in Ford radios could unlock extra channels on digital TV boxes. In Bolton, thefts of radios from Fords make up as much as half of all car crime.

The car manufacturer has dismissed the claim about the microchip. But in Bolton, police will be securing radios using security screws, for free, at Halfords, Burnden, on Saturday.

PC John Heyes, Bolton's crime reduction adviser, said: "Fords have been disproportionately targeted in recent months.

"One reason is that there has been a myth circulating that microchips within the radios can be used to decode digital TV boxes. Also, some radios are easier to remove than others.

"We're offering to secure radios to make it more difficult for thieves as part our strategy to reduce car crime."

In Cardiff, the myth saw car crime soar fourfold this month and police figures revealed that thefts of Ford radios accounted for 95 per cent.

Ford spokesman Paul Wilson said: "We have spoken to our radio manufacturers and we have been in discussions with digital box manufacturers.

"I can categorically state that there is no component in the radios that are compatible with the digital boxes."

Police will also be fitting tamper-proof screws to registration plates at Saturday's event after a string of thefts. Normal screwdrivers will not remove the plates.

Police believe registration plates are being stolen by crooks planning to commit crimes, including driving off from petrol stations without paying.

Officers will also be on hand to offer crime-reduction advice at the event which is being held on the car park of the Halfords store, in Manchester Road, Burnden, between 10am and 3.30pm.