CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Charlottesville Police Department has already seen dozens of instances in which someone took a catalytic converter off of a person’s vehicle so far this year.

However, there are ways people can prevent themselves from becoming a victim of this kind of crime.

When someone cuts a catalytic converter off a car, it completely changes the way the vehicle sounds.

One resident started his Toyota Prius and said it sounded like a Harley Davidson because the part had been stolen.

So far this year, there have been 57 reports involving stolen catalytic converters, and it can be very expensive to get the part replaced.

The catalytic converter, which is located underneath a vehicle, is needed to help contain emissions.

Without one, a vehicle is not supposed to be on the road because it wouldn’t meet environmental standards.

Thieves will take the part and sell it for some quick money because of the valuable metals it contains.

“It seems to be a market for them. When they cut them off, they can resell these things,” said Tony Simpkins, a manager at API Service Center. “It’s to buy the material on the inside of the converter, is actually what they’re getting at.”

He also says there is one type of car that seems more susceptible to this kind of crime.

“Toyota Priuses,” Simpkins said. “Yeah, we see those because they must be the ones they get a lot more money for.”

Recently, this crime has become more common.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we saw an uptick from 2019 and now, with the pandemic going on,” said Detective Corporal Jacob Bowlin with the Charlottesville Police Department. “All the prices are going up, a lot of people are put in tough spots. This is a way for offenders to quickly get something with a low chance of getting caught.”

The Charlottesville Police Department does investigate instances of these kinds of thefts, and officials offer some advice to help people avoid becoming a victim.

People can get a catalytic converter shield to cover the part and at least slow down a person trying to take it.

They can also get a vibration alarm that will go off if the car senses something, like the action of a saw.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed a bill that would make catalytic converter thefts a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

This new law will go into effect on July 1.