LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s almost Christmas. And many people are looking for some extra cash.

Some people, however, may do it illegally.

Amid a national surge in catalytic converter theft, one Lansing car dealership is searching for answers.

LaFontaine has had seven catalytic converters stolen from its vehicles, including one that was taken from a customer’s car.

Why is this particular car part such a hot item for thieves?

“Converter theft is very quick. It only takes less than a minute to get under there; the thieves know where to cut. They do it with battery-operated sawzalls,” said Lansing Police Captain Christopher Baldwin. “They get under there, cut that out and they have about a $1,000 piece of equipment off your car.”

The Lansing Police Department is reminding drivers of how they can keep their vehicles secure after catalytic converters were stolen right from cars on LaFontaine’s lot.

“To prevent catalytic converter theft, people should park in a well-lit area. People should also probably pay attention to what’s going on around them,” Baldwin said.

According to police, the thefts from LaFontaine occurred between Dec. 2 and Dec. 7.

Police said drivers should consider installing cameras on their properties in case they are targeted, especially business owners who don’t monitor their lots at night.

If you suspect your catalytic converter has been stolen, officials say to file a police report.

Another tip from police is to mark your converter, which could save you the trouble of having to replace it.

“A catalytic convertor from the factory has no identification markings on it. It helps if somehow, someway shape or form, you could get it marked. You could paint it with a certain high-resolution color. That helps prevent theft because if a theft gets under there and see if it’s marked, they might avoid it and move onto the next car,” Baldwin said.

And don’t forget – if you keep your catalytic converter safe, you’ll have more money to spend on Christmas gifts instead of expensive pieces of metal.