Madison police said they have identified 24 cases in which thieves have stolen catalytic converters from parked vehicles since late December.
The thefts in the greater Madison area are mostly from Toyotas, according to police. Four of the vehicles are 4-Runners and five vehicles are Tacoma pickup trucks.
The victimized vehicles have been most frequently been parked near businesses, apartment complexes and workplaces. Police said the thefts have occurred in Monona, Fitchburg and in all Madison police districts, except the south district.
Police said the catalytic converters contain precious metals thieves try to sell at scrap yards.
Thieves tend to target SUVs and trucks because they are easier to crawl under. Police said the thieves seem to like some Toyota models for that reason, and also because there is reportedly a larger quantity of precious metals in certain catalytic converters.
The process to cut off or unbolt the catalytic converters takes only a couple minutes, according to police.
"It looks like these people can get in and under these vehicles, SUV or pickup, cut off the catalytic converter in less than a minute and they're gone with it. Then they try and take it to a scrap yard and sell it," said Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department.
Police said they’re working with scrap yards to identify suspects.