CHAMPAIGN-URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The University of Illinois Police Department is reporting that catalytic converters remain a target for thieves on campus, with several theft reports in recent weeks.

After a lull in theft on-campus theft reports throughout the summer and fall, U of I Police began to regularly report catalytic convert thefts again starting in November. Twelve catalytic converters were reported as being stolen in that month alone. Nine of these thefts happened on the Urbana side of campus and of those nine, five happened in the Orchard Downs neighborhood. A further three catalytic converts have been reported stolen so far in December.

It can cost anywhere from $300 to over $3,600 to repair the damage done by these thefts.

The catalytic converter thefts on campus are part of a larger, nationwide trend that has been on the rise since 2019. State Farm Insurance reported earlier this year that the amount of catalytic converter theft claims in Illinois more than quadrupled since 2019, and that Illinois ranked third in the nation for catalytic converter theft.

Officials said the converters are targeted because of the precious metals inside of them. While University Police did not specify the makes and models of the cars targeted in recent weeks, car mechanics said Toyota Priuses are a popular target due to their catalytic converters having more precious metals in them.

Police advised that people park their cars in a well-lit or high-traffic spot to deter thieves. People can also buy a device that can protect a catalytic converter from being stolen.

People can tell that their catalytic converter is missing if the car makes a loud noise and if the check engine light comes on.