RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia State Police is offering rewards of up to $25,000 for information leading to arrests in connection to vehicle thefts.

According to VSP, catalytic converter thefts are up across the state, in part because stealing them is quick and easy — and partly because metal recyclers may pay hundreds for the precious metals found inside.

In response, VSP is offering up to $25,000 for information leading to arrests for thefts of vehicles and vehicle parts, including catalytic converters, through the Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) Rewards program.

Mandated in the United States in 1975, catalytic converters neutralize harmful gases found in engine exhaust and are bolted to the underside of vehicles. They can be removed in just a few minutes, most commonly by sawing through the pipes on either side.

According to VSP, trucks, SUVs, buses and vans are most likely targets because they sit higher off the ground, making it easier for potential thieves to get underneath. VSP offers the following tips to defend vehicles from potential catalytic converter thieves:

  • Park in well-lit areas. Setting your vehicle’s alarm and installing a bright motion sensor light can also help dissuade potential thieves.
  • Etch an identification number onto your catalytic converter, so that, in the event that it’s stolen, it can be easily identified or set off an alert to scrap dealers that it was stolen. It can also help dissuade a potential thief if they see the etching.
  • Install an anti-theft device, such as a metal shield or cage to go around the frame of the vehicle — or an alarm system that is sensitive to vibration that would be caused when attempting to remove a catalytic converter.