(WHTM) — Catalytic converter theft is becoming an epidemic this year, thanks to soaring metal prices. But there are some ways to stop this expensive type of auto theft.

Catalytic converter theft is getting worse, they get the call every few weeks. “They call and say I think I need a muffler, I have a loud exhaust, can you check it out?” Certified Tech David Blathers said.

He quickly discovers it’s not a bad muffler, a thief stole the catalytic converter in the pre-dawn darkness. Rebecca, who didn’t want to be on camera, was a victim. “I came out of my house, started the car, and it roared,” she said.

Shop owner Matt Overbeck says thieves can remove converters, filled with valuable rhodium and palladium, in seconds. Then they sell them for big bucks.

“Some of these converters have a scrap value of $1,000,” Overbeck said. Then you have to pay two or three grand for a new one!

And which cars are the biggest targets of catalytic converter thieves? Hybrids, because their converters contain the largest amount of these expensive metals.

Overbeck says if you park in a risky area at night, you can now protect your car for $200 to $300 dollars. “Some companies have begun to make a guard, shields, to cover your catalytic converter,” Overbeck said. It’s a metal plate that a thief can’t easily cut off.

“This is an aluminum shield, that’s fastened in place to prevent a thief from getting that catalytic converter,” Overbeck said. Overkill? Maybe. But if you park on a street at night you might want some extra protection.

So be careful where you park at night, so you don’t waste your money.