Thieves stealing catalytic converters in Peoria

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PEORIA -- Police say thieves are stealing catalytic converters from vehicles in Peoria and Toyotas are being targeted the most.

Crooks are stealing the converters because of the three rare metals found inside -- platinum, rhodium and palladium.

Police say crooks can remove a converter in less than 90 seconds and warned that thefts can happen even while victims are in restaurants, at the movies or shopping.

Since the middle of March, Peoria police say approximately 87 catalytic converters have been taken, including 34 from Younger Brothers Construction on Grand Avenue between Aug. 22 and Aug. 25.

In Peoria, 80 percent of vehicles hit are Toyotas with Tacoma being the most targeted. Police say vehicle models between 1995 and 2001 appear to be targeted more often.

Converter thieves slip under vehicles and with a battery-powered saw, cut through the exhaust pipe or use a ratchet to unfasten the bolts and unscrew the converter.

Metal recycling companies pay anywhere from $25 to $150 apiece for converters.

Replacement costs for the victim can run upward of $1,300.

Police say to prevent these thefts, try not to park your vehicle in the driveway of your home or on the street. If you see vehicles cruising your neighborhood or parking lots or people under vehicles in parking lots, call the police.