RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A Richmond woman is urging her neighbors to be vigilant after her catalytic converter was stolen.

It comes as Richmond Police say they’ve seen a 207% increase in catalytic converter thefts in the past year alone.

The Richmond woman, who wished to remain anonymous, says she noticed something was wrong when she turned on her car last week.

“I went to put the plates on my car actually, and when I started the car, it sounded really loud,” she said. “That’s when I knew.”

She adds she’s noticed thefts have been on the rise in her Shockoe Bottom neighborhood.

“Thefts have been on the rise in the area, especially here. For the last two months or so, about seven incidents.”

The rise is something Richmond Police are seeing across the city. RPD says number of catalytic converter thefts has more than tripled with 176 reported in 2020, and 541 reported in 2021. Officials add the crime can take only a matter of seconds.

“Just a couple of seconds or minutes is all it takes for someone to steal one so it’s a very, quick happening crime,” Anthony Jackson, RPD captain told 8News. “Which makes it harder to catch someone in the act.”

Richmond Police provided 8News with a heat map showing high theft areas including Shockoe Bottom, the Museum District and Midlothian Corridor in the southside.

Credit: Richmond Police Department

So, how can you protect yourself?

Experts suggest parking near lit areas and near cameras. You can take preventative measures by installing a CAT converter shield and set up external home cameras.

Residents are now urging neighbors to be vigilant.

“Keep your eyes open,” a Richmond resident told 8News. “Watch out. We all need to sleep at night and can’t just run to our cars every hour but just be aware. Park by the street light, camera. Just keep an eye on it.”