SAN MATEO (KPIX 5) – Police in San Mateo are urging car owners to be aware of thieves amid a spike in the number of catalytic converter thefts.

According to a statement on the department’s Facebook page, catalytic converters have become valuable because they contain materials that can be scrapped for a quick profit.

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Part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, catalytic converter thieves usually target trucks or SUVs because their higher ground clearance makes them easier to access and steal. But police said thieves are currently targeting Toyotas, particularly the Prius hybrid.

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Spikes in Prius catalytic converter thefts have been reported across the Bay Area over the past year, including in San Francisco, Berkeley and Richmond. Victims of past thefts have told KPIX 5 that replacements can cost between $2,500 and $3,000.

San Mateo Police recommend several prevention tips including parking in well-lit areas and installing home security cameras pointed at where the vehicle is parked.

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Anyone with additional information about the thefts is asked to contact San Mateo Police at (650) 522-7700. Tips can be left anonymously at (650) 522-7676 or online at http://tinyurl.com/SMPDTips.