URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Thieves looking for catalytic converters targeted an Urbana dealership this week, taking at least 18 from Napleton’s Auto Park on Wednesday morning.

New catalytic converters vary in cost, but they can set someone back up to $3,000 dollars.

Wayne Shaw with Red’s Muffler Shop in Urbana said thieves are taking the converters from cars and they don’t seem to care whether it’s day or night.

“It’s going on everywhere,” Shaw said. “We’ve had reports of them doing it at a public grade school here in town, at the hospital parking lot here in Urbana.”

Shaw said stolen catalytic converters are becoming an even bigger trend and it’s costing car owners thousands to replace and repair.

“They all vary from different vehicles,” he said. “I mean, I’ve seen them as far as low as $200, I’ve seen them as high as $2,000, $3,000.”

It’s gotten so bad, the number of repairs has reached triple digits for Shaw’s shop.

“Over a hundred in the last year,” he said.

So what makes these converters so valuable?

“They have platinum, rhodium and palladium in them, and they extract all of that and get it out and recycle it,” Shaw said.

Once the converters are gone, car owners are left scampering to figure out how to replace it. Shaw said they’re in short supply right now because factories are backed up making new ones.

It takes time to replace them, but fixing them doesn’t take as long.

“Some of them, I mean, once we get it in the air, a lot of them we can do in under an hour to an hour and a half,” Shaw said. “Some of them take a little bit longer. Just depends on the vehicle; every vehicle’s different,”

Shaw said the cost to repair a converter can range anywhere from $175 to $350. He said thieves usually take the convertors out of state to extract the metal, but he has some advice to protect your car:

“If you could watch your vehicle a little bit closer,” Shaw said. “If you do see someone trying to get your catalytic converter, don’t approach them. Call the police let them do that so you don’t get hurt.”

Shaw added that there are some shields people can buy that will go around or over a converter, making it harder for thieves to get to them.