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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – An auto expert in Oregon is sharing advice on how car owners can battle a wave of catalytic converter thefts that have been driving motorists crazy.

Heather Ogawa, an automotive advisor with Affordable Tire in Portland, said she started noticing an uptick in the stolen car parts just as the pandemic began, in the early spring of 2020.

Catalytic converters from Honda Element and Toyota Prius models were among the first targeted, she said, but every car is on the chopping block.

“Any car is a target because there’s metal in every catalytic converter,” Ogawa said.

While garages are the best form of protection, not everyone has the option of storing their vehicle in one.

For those drivers, Ogawa suggests investing in a catalytic converter guard.

“It’s worth it if you don’t have a garage,” she said. “We’ve had the same cars come in two or three times with stolen catalytic converters with no guards on them, insurance keeps paying out and insurance rates go up — and they’re probably going to, with the cost of constant theft.”

The protectors can cost up to several hundred dollars, but pale in comparison to the alternative; replacing an entire catalytic converter can cost around $3,000.

Ogawa said the guards aren’t impenetrable, but they provide a huge obstacle to would-be thieves.

“From what we can see, there’s probably a 95% to 100% success rate for drivers who do have a catalytic converter guard on,” she said. “It slows them down to the point that even if they tried, you could probably catch it before it occurs.”