BERKELEY (CBS SF) – Berkeley police are warning residents about a recent increase in thefts of catalytic converters.

Police say that since July 20, at least 14 vehicles have had their catalytic converters stolen throughout Berkeley. Catalytic converters are valuable because of the metals in them, such as platinum.

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In a majority of the thefts, a Toyota Prius was the target, possibly because its lighter weight makes it easier to lift with a vehicle floor jack. Catalytic converters are typically stolen by using a small portable saw to quickly cut it off from below the vehicle while it’s jacked.

To try to avoid theft, police recommend parking in your home’s garage if possible, using a motion-sensing light if you park in your driveway or parking in a well-lit area if you park on the street.

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If residents see something suspicious, like a person working on the underside of a car in the middle of the night along with the sound of a power saw, police ask they report it immediately.

Catalytic converter thefts targeting Prius hybrids have also been on rise in other cities across the Bay Area and Northern California, namely in San Francisco and in Davis.

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