SOUTH BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Catalytic converter thefts have become so common in New Jersey that police in South Brunswick are calling it an epidemic.
The police department is asking people to be on alert after nearly 30 cars have been targeted in 10 days.
The thefts are primarily taking part in the overnight hours and take just minutes.
"The catalytic converter problem in New Jersey is at epidemic levels. We are partnering with county and State law enforcement to track these suspects, but there are multiple crews operating throughout the state," said Chief Raymond Hayducka with the South Brunswick Police Department.
The crews have intensified their recent efforts in southern Middlesex County with 29 thefts in South Brunswick since May 21.
The police department said that the thieves are after the precious metals of rhodium, palladium and platinum that each converter contains.
Thieves then sell the metals to scrap yards for about $1,000.
"No legitimate business is having some walking in at 6 a.m. with a trunk full of catalytic converters and thinks this is legitimate," Hayducka said.
Capt. Jeff Russo, the head of South Brunswick Police Criminal Investigations Division said, "We have been sharing information with detectives throughout the area. The majority of thefts take place overnight between 11pm to 5am. The most common vehicle they target are Hondas."
There have been two instances where police officers have encountered the suspects and each time the thieves took off, creating a risk to the public.
"These suspects have no concern for public safety and will recklessly endanger everyone for a few hundred dollars," Hayducka said.
If you notice a problem or have become a victim you are asked to report it to (732) 329-4646 or call 911.
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News