AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Richmond and Columbia counties are seeing a rise in catalytic converter thefts. In Columbia County alone, 29 have been stolen in the last 30 days.

It appears thieves are targetting businesses on Washington Road. Several car dealers have reported thefts, including Garner Auto Sales.

“We got here, and one of the vehicles had a loud noise to it when we cranked it up,” Charles Garner, Jr., explained. “When I looked underneath it, the catalytic converter had been cut off.”

Three additional catalytic converters have been stolen from vehicles at Abilene Baptist Church, located down the street from Garner Auto Sales.

Catalytic converters remove harmful toxins from emissions to cut down on pollution. They’re found on the bottoms off cars, making them easy targets for thieves who can saw them off in minutes.

Investigators believe the parts are sought after because of their value.

“The honeycomb material that’s inside is made out of a platinum,” Erin Clements, the owner of GeorgiaLina Automotive, explained. “Everyone knows platinum is expensive. They take and sell them to core buyers in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, who take and recycle the rare, valuable metals out of them.”

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Thefts have also been reported in Burke County. It’s unclear if the cases are related. The sheriff’s office says investigators are working with surrounding departments to determine any possible connections.