If you live in New Jersey (or anywhere, really), keep an extra careful eye out for what happens to your car when no one's around!

This morning I got an email from my South Jersey apartment complex's office warning the residents of an uptick in catalytic converter thefts in our parking lots. This worried me for a second before I thought: "cata-who-a??" I had no idea what a catalytic converter was. I just know that I don't want mine stolen.

Getty Images

I did some digging online and found out via NorthJersey.com that catalytic converter thefts have risen dramatically across the United States - by nearly 300% from mid-2020 to mid-2021!!

What is a catalytic converter?

Cars.com says: "A catalytic converter is part of your car’s exhaust system that converts harmful engine-exhaust pollutants into something less harmful to the environment through a chemical reaction." They look something like this:

O2 Sensor mounted in Catalytic Converted
Getty Images

They're located on the bottom of your car. So you can lock your car doors, but that'll do nothing to prevent someone from sliding underneath and cutting it out.

Why are thieves stealing them?

Catalytic converters are made from three valuable metals: Platinum, palladium and rhodium. They help create the chemical reaction that makes your car's exhaust  fumes less toxic. They can be worth thousands of dollars at metal scrap yards.

What's being done about this?

One New Jersey city is trying to take steps to prevent these costly thefts. According to NorthJersey.com, Fair Lawn NJ police are hoping to launch a program aimed at reducing the thefts by stamping drivers' converters with traceable serial numbers. Scrap yards would be made aware the system.That way, when a marked converter shows up at a scrap yard to be sold, the seller (thief) would be turned away. The goal is to make them harder to sell, and therefore, less likely to be stolen.

Again, these thefts are difficult to prevent, but not impossible. It could be worth it to look into extra security cameras near your garage and to increase the lighting where your vehicle is parked - if you have control over it.

Has a lot of this been going on in your area? Tell us which ones so everyone knows where to look out for this in New Jersey!

Here Are 10 Tips For Driving in New Jersey - From NJ Drivers

According to "New Jersey" sub Reddit users! Check out the full thread HERE.

10 Roads in New Jersey You Avoid Like the Plague

Whether it's the traffic, the merges, the lights, or just the drivers, there are some roads in New Jersey you want to avoid like the plague.

More From 94.5 PST