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Catalytic Converter Thefts On Rise Across Philadelphia Region, Particularly In Trucks

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. (CBS) -- Catalytic converter thefts are once again on the rise all across the region. Thieves aren't picky but have recently been targeting one kind of vehicle in particular.

Catalytic converters contain precious metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium, and when the global prices for those metals rise, so do these pricy thefts.

"All the sudden it will sound like you have a little race car," Robert Leipziger said.

And not in a fun way. A loud roar from a vehicle once the ignition is turned is a telltale sign that part of your ride has been robbed.

Leipziger, owner of Rob's Automotive and Collision in Bristol, says over the past few months he has seen a sharp increase in the number of customers coming in after their catalytic converter had been stolen.

"We've been running across quite a bit of it, especially on pick-up trucks, little work trucks -- anything somebody can slide under without jacking it up," he said.

Just about a week ago, a fleet's worth of catalytic converters were swiped from Aardvark Mobile Tours in Conshohocken. The trucks were being used as mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.

Leipziger says several of their customers who operate large fleets were also hit, including a popular food brand.

"Every one of their trucks were hit over the weekend," Leipziger said.

The catalytic converter regulates a vehicle's emissions and in some vehicles, sawing it off can take just a minute. In others, it's a bit more difficult.

"They have the crossmember right in the front so they'd have to cut the pipe up here where it's not easy to get to," Leipziger said.

As for securing yours, he says, a car's motion sensor alarm can help. But the best defense is parking in a visible place where a thief wouldn't feel so comfortable.

"It's an easy, quick way to make money without working," Leipziger said.

Leipziger says depending on what kind of vehicle it is, a replacement catalytic converter will run between $700 and $2,000.

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