Brazen thieves jacked up a mother’s vehicle and stole a valuable car part in broad daylight – just metres away from the Bucks Free Press offices.

Huma Shaikh, who works at the newspaper offices in Station Road, Loudwater, was shocked to discover three men in hats and scarves had put a jack under her car in the car park and were working underneath it at lunch time on Wednesday.

The thieves had managed to steal the catalytic converter on her Toyota Prius – writing it off - before speeding away from the scene in a silver Vauxhall Vectra.

Ms Shaikh told reporters: “I just can’t believe this has happened, and in the middle of the day. I heard loud banging noises and I thought someone else was having work done on their car at the garage nearby.

“Then I walked to my car and saw it up in the air. There was a guy underneath it and I could hear loud noises.

“I said ‘what are you doing?’ but they didn’t say anything. I started taking pictures and they told me not to take photos of them.

“They quickly got the jack out and drove out of the car park at speed. They almost drove over my foot.”

Ms Shaikh was due to pick her children up from school and feared her car would be unsafe – but a garage later confirmed the car had had its catalytic converter stolen.

A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that converts toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas into less-toxic pollutants.

Police have previously warned that gangs are stripping cars of the catalytic converters in broad daylight in a bid to cash in on lucrative prices for rhodium, palladium and platinum in the devices.

The metals can be recycled for use in jewellery, dentistry and electronics.

Police were called but did not attend - photos of the offenders have been passed on to the authorities.