BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) —  Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in Bakersfield, creating headaches for car and truck owners, and putting sizable dents in their pocketbooks. Bakersfield Police say they’ve received 1,100 reports of stolen catalytic converters this year alone. Mechanics at a local car dealership says they caught three men on surveillance cameras stealing a catalytic converter out of a car in their parking lot on Sunday.

“We have a lot of problems with catalytic converters,” said Francisco Martinez, a mechanic with Dynasty Motors. “It’s a big problem, we can’t stay safe.

He’s not alone. Several other repair shops reported similar thefts this week. Catalytic converters contain precious metals like platinum, which sells for over a thousand dollars per ounce. Mechanics say it can be expensive to replace this part of your car.

“When they sell them, from what I understand they’re only getting $40 or $50 a piece,” said Bob Klingenberg, Owner and Technician with Eye Street Automotive. “The replacement cost of them is usually a minimum of $500. For the newer cars, it’s $2,000 or $3,000.”

If someone steals your catalytic converter, Klingenberg says your car will be much louder when you start your engine. A new map from BPD shows where most thieves are targeting catalytic converters, with hotspots in the central and southeast parts of town. Experts say thinking ahead can keep your car safe.

“Some muffler shops and companies are making shields that go under it,” said Klingenberg. “They can still cut through it, but it’s gonna take them 5 or 10 minutes instead of 30 seconds. Chances are, they’re gonna go on to the next car and they’ll leave yours alone.”

Mechanics say catalytic converter shields can cost up to $400, but they may make thieves think twice before trying to cut into your car.