KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Incidents of thieves cutting catalytic convertors from cars have spiked across the country over the past two years as precious metal prices rose. Now, University of Tennessee police say they are investigating a spree of similar thefts that happened over the past month.

The UT Police Department said Friday that catalytic convertors have been stolen from several vehicles on and around campus since the start of the spring semester, specifically targeting Hondas and Toyotas.

According to Associated Press, thieves can expect to get anywhere from $50 to $300 if they sell the converters to scrap yards, which then sell them to recycling facilities to reclaim the precious metals inside, including platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Skyrocketing prices of these precious metals are believed to be inspiring the increase in thefts. Rhodium alone is currently valued at over $16,000 per ounce.

Investigators said many of these thefts have occurred in open parking lots rather that inside parking garages.

UT Police would like to offer these tips to the campus community:

  • Park in a well-lit areas or lots
  • Park close to building entrances, sidewalks or near roadways where your vehicle is more visible to the public
  • Park in a garage if possible
  • Check on your vehicle more frequently
  • Report suspicious activity or people to police

Victims of on-campus crimes should call the UT Police Department at 865-974-3114.