BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Thieves in Boulder are stealing pricey parts right off vehicles.

The thieves aren’t breaking in. They are climbing underneath the cars and stealing catalytic converters, and they seem to be targeting SUVs.

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Police believe SUVs are being targeted because they’re high off the ground making the catalytic converter underneath more easily accessible to thieves.

It takes about 1 minute to steal a catalytic converter. Thieves want the metal, including a part from its inside. The metal means cash.

Zach Holtzman heard a strange sound when he started up his Toyota Tacoma.

“It sounded like I had a huge hole in my muffler,” Holtzman said.

His catalytic converter was stolen overnight. His Tacoma was parked on the street. His SUV, along with a Toyota 4Runner, were among many SUVs and cars hit by thieves in Boulder.

Jeff Sterling’s auto repair shop, Boulder Muffler,  has been busy replacing them the converters.

“Ten 4Runners, Toyota pick-ups, and three Honda Elements,” Sterling said.

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While CBS4 was shooting the story, Sterling got more calls from victims.

“The minute you start it, you’re going to know something is wrong,” Sterling said.

Sterling says a catalytic converter is an emissions control device for a vehicle’s exhaust. But to a thief, it’s fast cash at a metal scrap yard.

“They just take their saw, and one cut there, one cut there, and away they go,” Sterling said.

The internal part is filled with platinum, palladium and rhodium. The converter can be scrapped anywhere from $50 to $195, depending on the car type.

The cost to replace a catalytic converter will cost someone like Holtzman anywhere from $300 to $800.

“There are definitely other ways to make money other than stealing people’s parts from their cars,” Holtzman said.

Boulder police say they are visiting scrap metal yards in the area as part of their investigation.

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Auto repair experts say a “cage” can be purchased for converters online to try and protect it, but best advice is to park vehicles in a secure garage.