SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department is warning the public that the theft of catalytic converters is on the rise. This small device is an important element of a vehicle that is an emission control device that contains traces of precious metals such as platinum, rhodium and palladium.

Many criminals target trucks and sports utility vehicles when stealing this device as it allows them easy access. The metals from the device can be sold for cash. Sgt. Rudy Camarena of the SMPD indicated in a press release to Canyon News that the department has seen a spike in the theft of catalytic converters in the city and adjacent neighborhoods.

Most of the thefts have taken place during the morning hours, targeting cars parked on the curb. Authorities note that it only takes a criminal less than five minutes to steal the device with the use of a battery operated power saw. Drivers can purchase commercial, anti-theft devices at auto parts stores to halt the theft of the device.

The SMPD is asking residents to park their cars in well lit drive-ways, carports or garages and to install motion detection lighting areas where vehicles are parked overnight. Anyone with information regarding these thefts is urged to contact the Santa Monica Police Department’s non-emergency number at 310-458-8491 or to dial 911 if witnessing a crime in progress or suspicious activity.