Car part thefts on the rise in Milwaukee; catalytic converters a hot item

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Catalytic converters are hot ticket items for car thieves because metal prices are worth more than gold. 

The owner of Brett's Auto Repair in Milwaukee, Brett Stabelfeldt, says he sees at least one customer a week that this has happened to and cars in his lot were even a target. 

Milwaukee police already reported 178 auto part thefts since the start of the year, up from 159 during the same time last year. And they believe the majority of those thefts are catalytic converters. 

Thieves steal them and then melt the metal down to sell for thousands of dollars. 

Experts say it's best to keep your vehicle in a well-lit area, have an alarm system, or park it in a garage if you can. They say it doesn't take long for thieves to make off with these parts. 

"They can do it under a minute. I mean it’s just two cuts with a SAWZALL and with a brand new blade they are going to go right through that. They target cars that are up higher because then they don’t have to jack them up so if you have a lower car you are technically probably a little more safe. They use jacks too. If they want it they’re going to get it,” Stabelfeldt said.

The catalytic converters are not cheap to replace. It can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $3,500. 

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