By CBSBoston.com Staff

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Thieves are targeting certain cars for their catalytic converters. It’s a growing concern across the country – and now in Cambridge.

“We’ve had over 40 reported cases of catalytic converter theft in the city of Cambridge,” said Jeremy Warnick of the Cambridge Police.

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Catalytic converters, which are part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, are being ripped out of parked cars and sold on the black market.

“Anywhere from $150-$300 depending on the size of the converters,” Warnick said.

Why is this happening? They contain precious metals, like palladium, which is valued over $2,000 an ounce.

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Mechanics say it’s an easy job for two people with just a few tools. Once the thieves are able to get underneath the vehicle all it takes is a few simple cuts and they’re able to remove the catalytic converter in a matter of minutes.

In Cambridge, all of the thefts have targeted used Toyota Prius models made between 2004 and 2009. The cost to replace the catalytic converter is around $3,000, sometimes worth more than the car itself.

It’s not just Cambridge, communities across the state have seen vehicles targeted including pickup trucks which are easy for thieves to crawl under.

The best advice from police, park in a garage if you can, or well-lit areas. There’s also a catalytic converter lock to help you avoid becoming an easy target.

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“If you can quickly get that in a matter of minutes it shows why there’s an aggressive market for them,” Warnick said.

CBSBoston.com Staff