A CAR salesman is warning Prius owners that brazen thieves are stealing catalytic converters in broad daylight in under five minutes.

Suhel Ibrahim, who runs the Hybrid Car Centre of Bolton in High Street, Daubhill had five of his cars damaged and stolen from on Friday night.

Mr Ibrahim says the thieves have been hitting Toyota Prius’ in Bolton for about two weeks and he had been fearful he would be a target.

He said: “It’s the generation two Prius, they have a lot of platinum in the catalytic converter and the scrap value is over £350.

“It’s the same people, they’ve been doing it for the last two weeks.

“It takes them three or four minutes to do it.”

The Bolton News:

Mr Ibrahim has been in contact with his clients and friends and family who he says all have experience with the thieves.

Lukman Patel, who lives in Hamel Street, Great Lever, had his catalytic converter stolen on Wednesday at about 12.30pm.

Mr Patel said: "There's work going on in the street so I didn't think anything of the noise.

"I looked out of the window and could see my car had been lifted. By the time I ran outside they'd already taken it."

A video of the incident lasts less than two minutes and the thieves can be seen directing traffic away from them as they block the road.

A white car parks next to a red Prius, blocking Hamel Street. Two men get out, one jacks up the car while another crawls underneath. After a few seconds he crawls out and puts the converter in the boot of the waiting car.

Mr Ibrahim estimates 50 converters have been stolen in Bolton in two weeks.

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In a bid to protect himself in future he said: “I’m going to have to take the exhausts off before I put them out on the pitch, but that means I will struggle to sell them because I won’t be able to let people test drive them.”

Mr Ibrahim said he has sold cars only to have the new owners come back a few days later saying their converters had been stolen and Mr Ibrahim was having to source them new ones costing around £300.

He said: “They are coming back to Bolton because they are finding it an easy target because there’s no police.

“They’re not bothered if they are seen.”

Mr Ibrahim believes its the same group using a white Skoda Octavia with different registration plates each time.

In January police officers issued a warning to Prius owners saying they were being targeted in Bolton.

A spokesman said: “If you own a Prius, or know someone who does, please be extra vigilant when securing it.”

Suspicious activity can be reported via 101 or the live chat facility on the website www.gmp.police.uk