VIGO Co., Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Annalynn Fulk’s fun family outing in Terre Haute came to a screeching halt when they heard a loud, unusual sound from their truck.

“My husband told me to shut it off and climbed underneath it and knew instantly what had happened,” Fulk said.

The Fulk’s catalytic converter had been stolen in broad daylight. The alleged thief was caught stealing it on their home surveillance camera.

“He happened to be able to hide between the cars and be in and out so quickly that no one even noticed he had done it,” said Fulk.

Emily Gibson is another Terre Haute resident who’s familiar with catalytic converter theft. She said her boyfriend’s car was targeted outside The Cabin bar on Hulman Street.

“I just couldn’t believe it. Like, why would somebody do that? Plus it’s an open field and a busy road,” she said.

When it comes to catalytic converter theft, cars aren’t the only vehicles at risk.

A bus used to transport kids to and from Chances and Services for Youth was hit twice within a short period of time.

“Repairs were made to it. Of course, it’s down two or three days. $1,400 worth of damage that time,” said CASY COO Brandon Halleck.

Out of frustration, Halleck put up a message in front of the Booker T. Washington Community Center. It asked for the cat converter to be returned. But his plea was ignored. 

“It’s such a waste for us to have to take these dollars that we could be spending on the kids, and instead we’re investing it into repairing a vehicle that didn’t need to be repaired,” he said.

Many may wonder why catalytic converters are a target for thieves.

According to Steve Finzel of Finzel’s Mastertech, the part has precious metals platinum, rhodium, and palladium on the inside.

“They basically cut them off, cean out the inside of them and they’re trying to sell them for the precious metals,” Finzel said.

Finzel added that he sees at least one car a week in need of a repair due to a missing catalytic converter.

In Vigo County and Terre Haute there were 51 catalytic converter thefts in all of 2020. There have already been 62 reports in just the first quarter of 2021. 

According to Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse, two arrests have been made in Vigo County. But, keeping your vehicle safe may be hard to do.

“I don’t know if there’s a way to stop it 100 percent,” said Sheriff Plasse.

The sheriff did provide a few tips. If your cat converter is stolen, have all the information you can such as video footage or a suspect description. Also, park where your vehicle is visible and use a garage if you have one.

It’s all to make sure this doesn’t keep happening.