SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — If you’ve owned a vehicle then you know that pricey auto part thieves like to steal catalytic converters. 

Experts say thefts have shot up by 33 percent nationwide including here in our area. In fact, Mike Thompson, owner of Auto Intensive Care says it’s happening a lot more than you think.

Thompson said, “We probably seen one once or twice a month. We’ve actually been victims of the crime also. Probably about 3 or 4 months ago. We actually had six of them stolen from us.  

Thieves are able to work quickly to steal the converters and they are cashing in big time.

Thompson says it’s because of the metals.

“Well, they’ve got precious metals in them. They’ve got rhodium, palladium, and platinum in them, and rhodium is a very expensive mineral, all of them are expensive, but rhodium can sometimes go for 20,000 dollars an ounce. They put them on the black market, and they sell the catalytic converters sell from anywhere 25 to 500 dollars a converter,” Thompson said. 

Kate Keiser, Director of Marketing and Development of EmployAbility says they’re not strangers to this kind of crime.

Keiser said, “So, we had over 20 catalytic converters stolen from our vans and transportation including our wheelchair buses, which drastically impacted our ability to bring our participants on to campus. The first time it happened, we were all pretty stunned. The second time, it happened we were pretty mad. The catalytic converters themselves were about 2,000 dollars each. 

Keiser says EmployAbility has taken some key steps to protect their vehicles.

“So, we were able to install security fences around our transportation with barbed wire. We added cameras, and lights to the parking lot, and it seems as though we have been able to deter any further thefts since that,” Keiser said.

Thompson has this piece of advice for anyone wanting to avoid being a victim.

“Park in the garage, well lit areas, security cameras”.

Anyone convicted of this crime could face 1 to 10 years in jail.