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Thieves steal catalytic converters, leaving victims with hefty bill

An important part of your car can be stolen, and you may not even know until you start it up, and it's extra loud.

There's been a number of catalytic converters stolen in the area. So, why do thieves care about the hunk of metal underneath your car? Mechanics say there's precious, expensive metals inside, usually platinum.

"They pick cars where they're easy, so they can get right underneath -- cut them here, cut them here, and it's off. With a sawzall, they can get them off in about three minutes," said David Manyo.

David runs Manyo Motors in Milwaukee. He says about 20 cars have come in with missing, stolen catalytic converters over the last couple years.

"Thirty-five minutes later, she call me. She said something's wrong with the car," said David Brown. Someone stole his catalytic converter while it was parked in an senior living facility in Oak Creek. Brown's wife was visiting her mother. "I could hear roar in the background. I actually had her turn it off so I could hear what she was saying."

The car was parked for just over a half hour, but Oak Creek police told Brown it was probably stolen in a couple minutes.

Brown was able to file a claim wit his insurance for the stolen part. Since the thieves cut more than just the catalytic converters, Brown's whole exhaust system needs to be replaced. The cost is over $1,700.

A CBS 58 staff member that had theirs stolen too -- that replacement estimate was $1,500.

Some people have alarmed their cars or build contraptions to cover the catalytic converter, but there's no guaruntee that will prevent these types of thefts. However, it does seem thieves are going after certain vehicles.

"Some of the Hondas and Toyota, they can't get up there to cut them out easy enough. That's why the Cadilacs, most of the GMs, the Fords, the trucks -- they're easily accessible," said Manyo.

Brown believes his car was targeted because his converter had more platinum than other cars.

Manyo explains some newer cars have the catalytic converters mounted directly to the exhaust manifold -- and that's good news -- because thieves would have no way to cut them out.

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