According to officials, there were 819 catalytic converters stolen in Suffolk County from Jan. to late Aug. compared to 289 for all of last year.
In Nassau County, there was a nearly 250% increase over the same time. Police there have reported a total of 1,549 incidents so far this year.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman is budgeting for 36 sworn officers to help combat the problem and blames bail reform laws for an increase in crime.
"People are committing crime, after crime, after crime because there are no consequences," Blakeman said.
From start to finish, experts say it takes 30-60 seconds to remove a catalytic converter. Tips to prevent theft include parking in a garage or near a motion detector light close to your house. Proposed legislation that’s awaiting the final approval of the Governor aims to slow those who steal and sell the parts.
St. Senator Anna Kaplan who cosponsored the bill says it would put the brakes on catalytic converter theft by requiring scrap recyclers to maintain records of sellers or face fines. Car dealers would also be provided with free kits to etch serial numbers on the parts to help law enforcement investigations.
"There’s a track," she said. "We know where they start and where they end up. If you can’t sell them you’re not going to steal them."
Officials say thieves generally aren’t interested in the vehicle or what’s inside, it’s the pricey part underneath with valuable precious metals when sold.