MONROE COUNTY, Ind. — Police agencies across Monroe County are seeing a big increase in catalytic converter thefts, targeting one specific vehicle.

The car part contains precious metals that can be sold for big bucks and data shows thieves are targeting Toyota Prius vehicles more than others.

A recent theft in Ellettsville was caught on a home security camera. It shows the thieves jacking up a Prius sitting in the owner’s driveway. Within a minute, they sawed off the catalytic converter and drove off. 

Bloomington, the county seat and largest city, has been the epicenter of the thefts. 

Data provided by the Bloomington Police Department shows at this time in 2022, police had received 7 catalytic converter theft reports. This year that number has more than doubled to 20 catalytic converter thefts. 

Of those 20, 13 involved a Toyota Prius.

“A lot of them happen at night,” Chief Michael Diekhoff said. “They literally will come, somebody will lay on the ground, and take a saw and cut off the catalytic converter and it happens very quickly.”

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has seen its fair share as well. In all of 2022, they saw 23 catalytic converter thefts. In just the first month of this year, they’ve seen 13 with 11 months still to go.

Numbers from the sheriff’s office show a number of the reports have also involved a Toyota Prius.

Police say it’s because the converters have more valuable metals in them than traditional vehicles.

“Toyota Priuses and hybrid vehicles, in general, are usually a pretty highly targeted vehicle,” Sgt. Nathan Peach with the sheriff’s office said. “It just offers a bigger price when the person that’s stealing them goes to get rid of them.”

Both agencies said they’re working to crack down on this recent wave by working with law enforcement across the state and it’s not just the thieves they’re targeting. 

“Somebody is buying those so we need to figure out who those people are,” Chief Diekhoff.

Investigators said there’s not much people can do other than be vigilant.

“If people see some suspicious vehicles in their neighborhoods or their parking lots, call us,” Chief Diekhoff said. “If you see somebody get out and get down on the ground there’s a good chance that’s what they’re doing.”

Police said if you own a Prius or hybrid vehicle it might be best to park it in a garage if you can. They also suggest parking in well-lit areas

If it does happen to you, police want you to report it as it could help them find who did it. Investigators say it’ll be obvious if it happens to you.

“As soon as you turn your car on it’s going to be obviously loud,” Sgt. Peach said. “It’s going to probably idle rough.”