Do you know what a catalytic converter is or where it is located? Do you know what makes them so tempting to thieves?
At least seven catalytic converter thefts were reported in Quincy recently.
The devices, which are a part of the exhaust system of some vehicles, contain precious metals which can be sold for thousands of dollars.
One Quincy woman shared her story with us about what happened when she went out to start her van one Sunday morning.
Anne Ochs starts her van it sounds just like it should. But that wasn't the case on Sunday November 16 when she got ready to leave for church.
As soon as she turned on the engine she heard a very loud noise.
"Wasn't an explosion by any means but it sounded like it," Anne Ochs said. "And then it was so loud. And it scared me because I did smell a little bit of exhaust fumes."
Someone had stolen the catalytic converter from underneath her van.
Randy Eppinghouse works at Summy Tire in Quincy and we asked him to explain how the catalytic converter works.
"The exhaust gases coming out of your engine, they go into the catalytic converter and then they travel into the muffler," Eppinghouse explained. "So once that catalytic converter is out of the vehicle it no longer goes through the muffler so it's extremely loud."
The converter changes those poisonous gases into something that is less harmful.
A little more than a week ago about seven converter thefts, including Anne's, were reported to police.
Deputy Chief Curt Kelty with the Quincy Police Department says vans, trucks and SUVs are ideal targets for this kind of theft.
"If you have a vehicle that's higher, like an SUV, it's easier for someone to slide underneath of it and cut the catalytic converter off," Kelty said.
The theft turned Anne Ochs pleasant Sunday into and unexpected headache.
"First of all I was scared because I didn't know what it was," Ochs said. "And when I found out something had been cut off of my car, I was very angry, very angry. And then I knew there was going to be cost involved."
A little more than $300 later and Anne can get around safely once again.
The metal of the converter can be scrapped and sold for money.
Deputy Chief Curt Kelty says that it appears that theft were committed by people passing through the area.
Although there is not a lot you can do to protect your own vehicle, there are things you can do to protect your friends and neighbors from becoming victims.
Kelty says to watch out for people who get out of their own vehicle and go over to another one.
"It's also good, if possible, without being too conspicuous to try and get the license plate number of that vehicle, color, make, model of it, too. Anything we can use to identify it and hopefully find the people afterwards," Kelty said.
Deputy Chief Kelty says that you should call 911 with the information.
If it turns out to be nothing that's fine. But your tip may stop someone else from becoming a victim of this crime.
If you've been a victim of a catalytic converter theft, we'd love to hear your story in the comments section below!