MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — They only take a minute to swipe, but can cost thousands of dollars to replace.

Thieves across the metro are slipping under cars, sawing off and stealing catalytic converters.

Police in St. Paul have received more than 70 reports of stolen catalytic converters in the last month. Dozens of thefts have also been reported in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park.

The early sunsets and cold weather has people inside earlier, creating the perfect opportunity for these criminals to pounce.

“The people responsible for this are moving around, most likely anonymously, within these neighborhoods, within these parking lots, trying to blend in with everybody else,” said St. Paul Police Sgt. Mike Ernster. “If people see something suspicious, they need to call the police.”

(credit: CBS)

These robbers aren’t looking for the actual part — but the precious metals inside. They can be sold for scrap for about $100.

Over the last few months, Lloyd’s Automotive in St. Paul has dealt with dozens of stolen converters, including one from their own lot.

“The little bit of money that they get for scrapping the metal, compared to what it really costs to replace it, just like with copper pipes, is a huge difference,” said Dan Burns, owner of Lloyd’s Automotive. “It’s really sad that they steal them for that purpose.”

To protect your car, St. Louis Park Police suggest parking your car in a well-lit area or inside a garage.

You can also adjust your car’s alarm system or have a professional use welding or special bolts to prevent anyone from easily taking the converter.

Catalytic converters don’t have any identifying numbers or other markings on them, so law enforcement also suggest getting your converter etched with a number on it with the help of a professional so it can be tracked.

READ MORE: YouTube Surfing Leads To Charges In String Of Catalytic Converter Thefts

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