PRINCETON, WV (WVNS)–There’s one particular car part everyone should be aware of: a catalytic converter. As they become the newest prizes for criminals.

They contain about three to seven grams of platinum and have $400 worth of rhodium.

Shawn Chahar, the owner of Frontline Automotives in Princeton said they are a hot item for thieves – but every car needs to have one.

“If you don’t have that on your vehicle, a catalytic converter it actually puts out toxic fumes out of your internally combusted engines, that’s the reason for a catalytic converter,” said Chahar.

Both the Mercer County Sheriffs’ department and the Princeton Police Department saw an uptick in catalytic converter thefts in the area during the winter. But, Sergeant R.S. Gibson with the department said residents need to be alert at all times because it’s back on the rise.

“The main thing is to stay vigilant, especially if you have on-street parking where you’re not able to pull your vehicle in a garage, you want to park in a well-lit area overnight,” said Sgt. Gibson.

Sgt. Gibson explained the potential consequences someone could face if they decide to steal a converter.

“One is tampering with the vehicle, you have to touch a vehicle that does not belong to you. You have to damage the vehicle in order to remove the converter and once you possess the converter, you have to transfer that stolen converter,” said Gibson.

Gibson said depending on the damage and money someone could gain from this crime, they could become a felon.