ALABAMA (WHNT) — Catalytic converters have become a target point for thieves with research showing record numbers of the car part being stolen across the state.

In the last 3 years alone, catalytic converter thefts have increased over 1700% for Alabama residents.

A catalytic converter can be taken from a vehicle within minutes, but local car experts like Tom Clem of Clem Tire and Auto suggest it can be done even quicker.

“A battery-powered saw, it cuts steel if you got the right blade for it and if somebody knows what they’re doing they can probably do it in about 30 seconds,” Clem said.

Researcher Kerry Sherin says precious metals found in a catalytic converter are one of the leading causes of the crime spike.

“Depending on the vehicle and the type of converter it could be platinum, palladium, or rhodium thieves try to get their hands on these pretty easy-to-grab devices from vehicles that earn them a quick buck,” Sherin said.

The stolen vehicle part can be sold for $200 to $300 in value, but mechanics say car owners can spend thousands to have their catalytic converters replaced.

“If you get a factory converter where it goes in there like it’s supposed to, you’re going to spend close to a thousand $1200 real quick,” Clem told News 19.

Experts suggest car owners buy anti-theft devices like metal plates that are placed over a converter that may prevent a criminal to think twice about stealing it. You can also have a mechanic engrave the vin number on the converter so it can be traced if stolen.