CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Thieves in Carlisle are breaking into cars, not for money or jewelry, but for parts. They are going after catalytic converters, hitting six vehicles in less than 48 hours.

Carlisle police said it is a frustratingly easy crime to commit, but difficult to solve and incredibly inconvenient for victims. Police also said it has become increasingly common.

“Nationwide, there’s certainly been a rapid increase in the number of catalytic converter thefts,” Carlisle Police Sgt. Joe Rucinsky said.

Rucinsky said catalytic converters are easy to steal and can be incredibly profitable for thieves.

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“It can be cut off a car in a couple of minutes,” he said. “Due to the precious metals in the catalytic converters, [thieves] can make money off doing it.”

It is a crime Rucinsky has seen a lot of recently. At the end of January, police saw several cars hit over two days, sometimes on the same street.

“Over the span of about a weekend, it was sic and now just recently, it went up to seven,” Rucinsky said. “Unfortunately there’s a number of people out there doing it.”

This is also an expensive crime for victims, sometimes costing up to $600 and often not covered by insurance.

“They are expensive, and that’s why they’re targeted so readily,” Rucinsky said.

He added the speed of the crime makes things difficult for the police too.

“Unless we see them in the act, or somebody reports someone stealing a catalytic converter as it’s happening, it’s an after the fact,” he said.

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Officers rely heavily on witnesses in the community just to identify suspects.

“What helps us is neighbors who come forward saying, ‘Hey I have video or hey, I saw this suspicious vehicle,'” Rucinsky said.

He said the best defense is to be observant. If you see something, let police know.

“You see somebody looking into cars, looking around cars, specifically going under cars,” he said. “Certainly call us and we’ll come and check it out.”

When these catalytic converter thefts pop up, police say neighbors are their best resource so Rucinsky is asking people to pay attention and report anything that seems out of the ordinary, like unfamiliar cars or people carrying suspicious tools.