HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In Hendersonville, catalytic converter thefts are through the roof.

According to Hendersonville police, since late May, there have been at least 13 thefts. One auto business had six stolen in a single night.

According to investigators, the items are attractive to thieves because they are comprised with precious metals like Palladium which was selling for almost $1,900 per ounce Friday.

Steve Mirenda has owned Steve’s Auto Pro in Hendersonville for 34 years. He said there is little that customers can do to protect themselves against thieves.

“There is nothing except weld bars around it, which is ridiculous,” Mirenda said.

On June 24, thieves came onto his back lot that he says is blocked, but not gated. The thieves cut six catalytic converters off customers’ cars.

“My insurance company will not pay for all of it of course,” Mirenda said.

It’s a family-run business and times are tight, and when things like this happen, it sets his company back significantly.

Mirenda said he had to call the customers and tell them their cars would be delayed because of the thefts and that getting replacement parts is difficult.

Mirenda said he supports his customers and is absorbing the loss.

“Thousands of dollars, probably $20,000,” is what Mirenda said he may be out with the loss which includes parts and labor.

According to police, the crime is prevalent because every car has a catalytic converter each contains expensive precious metals, and with something as simple as a battery operated saw-zall, thieves can steal a part in about 90 seconds.

“I think the average price, I was going through the reports, is about $1,700 for each of these thefts. Catalytic Converters are not cheap,” Hendersonville Sergeant Chris Gagnon said. “They have high value metals in them, which is why they can turn around and scrap them and that scrapper can make some money.”

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“It’s terrible. We are a small business, family owned. And I got to cover it,” Mirenda said. “It’s on my lot, I have to take care of my customers.”

And to the bad guys, Mirenda said, “I’d like to rip them apart, thanks for stealing my life.”

When asked if motorists could etch their names or identifying marks on their catalytic converters to help police more quickly identify stolen merchandise, Mirenda said it is ineffective because thieves are cutting open the exterior cases to get at the precious metals within. And those items cannot be marked and they are sold to scrappers by weight.

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Hendersonville police say if you see someone under a car at 2 a.m., chances are they are up to no good and you need to call authorities.