Don't leave your vehicle in the dark.

Police in Absecon are warning local residents about an increase in catalytic converter thefts in the community.

They say thieves can saw a catalytic converter off a car in less than a minute.

Police say it's happening right outside people's homes, usually at night. They urge anyone who sees anything suspicious to call the police immediately.

Here's what police say about protecting your car: "Homeowners can protect their vehicles by installing motion-sensitive lights and cameras at their homes."

What exactly is a catalytic converter and what does it do?

According to Wikipedia, "A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that converts toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants by catalyzing a redox reaction. Catalytic converters are usually used with internal combustion engines fueled by gasoline or diesel, including lean-burn engines, and sometimes on kerosene heaters and stoves."

Here's what Wikipedia says about thefts of converters: "Because of the external location and the use of valuable precious metals including platinum, palladium, and rhodium, catalytic converters are a target for thieves. The problem is especially common among late-model trucks and SUVs, because of their high ground clearance and easily removed bolt-on catalytic converters. Welded-on converters are also at risk of theft, as they can be easily cut off. Pipecutters are often used to quietly remove the converter but other tools such as a portable reciprocating saw can damage other components of the car, such as the alternator, wiring or fuel lines, with potentially dangerous consequences. Rising metal prices in the U.S. during the 2000s commodities boom led to a significant increase in converter theft. A catalytic converter can cost more than $1,000 to replace, more if the vehicle is damaged during the theft."

Absecon Police say if you have questions or problems, you should call them at (609) 641-0667.

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