Catalytic converter thefts on the rise, prevention tips

Every car has one, and now the Bloomington Police Department is issuing a crime alert after 15 recent catalytic converter thefts.

The catalytic converter may not be the most well-known part of a car, but it's certainly one of the most valuable. And according to police, it's also become a favorite among car thieves.

In just the past three weeks, 12 catalytic converters have been cut out of parked cars in Bloomington, Minn. Local business owners were surprised to hear that in the dead of winter thieves were sneaking under cars, but according to police, it's not unusual.

"Catalytic converter thefts take place because the converters contain several types of recyclable materials that can be easily ‘scrapped' for a quick profit," Bloomington police said. "They contain expensive precious metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium."

If you are a victim of this crime, you'll notice your exhaust is extremely loud, and it will sound like you don't have a muffler. The vehicle most likely won't be drivable because there will be no pressure in your exhaust system.

4 prevention tips from Bloomington PD

Report suspicious activity immediately to police by calling 911. For example, if someone is walking through the area with a backpack, they have dirty clothing (can indicate they were underneath a vehicle -- dirty pants), and loitering near vehicles this might be a good time to call police. If you see suspicious vehicles in the area and hear power tools being used, it might be a good time to call.

Please don't wait until they leave, call police immediately. They usually use a "Sawzall" to cut the catalytic converter out of the exhaust system.

Park defensively in areas where your vehicle will most easily be seen by people passing by. For example, park under lights after dark or near windows at a business. Park in your garage if at all possible.

Consider etching your converter with your vehicle's license plate number in several different locations. This will help police track your property if it is stolen. If your converter is stolen, file a police report immediately after the theft is discovered.