ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene man could have lost his life Tuesday, while trying to stop the theft of a vehicle’s catalytic converter. One local transportation professional explained why somebody might steal one.

In a recent report from the Abilene Police Department (APD), an unnamed Abilene man was hit by a white 4-door sedan Tuesday while attempting to stop the reported theft of a catalytic converter.

The report included that the witness, who was hit, saw four men masked with bandanas removing a converter, in the 500 block of Chestnut street. As the men took the converter to their sedan, the witness stood in front of the vehicle in attempt to block the thieves- but was ultimately unsuccessful.

The Victim refused ambulance care at the scene and declined any further comment.

Jimmy Campbell of Procter Automotive told KTAB/KRBC, judging by the calls his shop routinely receives, crimes of this nature have been on the rise.

“This started rising probably the middle of last year, early part of last year, and it’s only gotten worse,” Campbell informed.

Why are local criminals focused on this one specific car part? Campbell said they’re after the metals inside of the part.

“They’re stealing them because the values of the metals in the converters are going up as we speak,” said Campbell.

Platinum valued at $730 an ounce, Palladium valued at $2,000 an ounce, and Rhodium valued at $10,000 per ounce can all be found in Catalytic converters. With no serial number on the part, it can be a difficult crime to track.

“That makes it pretty attractive for these guys to go after it,” Campbell said. “Even the risk that they’re taking getting caught, because we’re nearing felony expense on these things.”

It’s a process that’s remarkably simple, though risky. Campbell said criminals need only to jack up the vehicle and cut the converter on either side with a hack or electric saw. What’s done in mere minutes can result in a hefty expense for the vehicle’s owner.

“$200 would be a good starting point years ago,” Campbell said with expert opinion. “Today, I would say the average is starting in the $400 range… $350 to $400, and going all the way up to $1,000 a piece.”

As a Transportation Professional, Campbell said he’s even helped install a custom catalytic converter guard on a customer’s pickup. Though, these guards are uncommon and expensive to come by and install.

In effort to discourage theft, it is recommended that cars be parked in well-lit and highly visible areas.