CINCO RANCH, Texas — It may have purred like a kitten before, but Ken Reed’s son’s Toyota Tundra now only makes a very loud roar.

“We just purchased this for him, probably about three months ago,” said Reed.

Last week, Reed’s son parked his truck in the parking lot of Willow Fork Park next to Cinco Ranch High School, and someone went to work on it while he was in class.

“He came out and started his truck and called me and said “dad, my truck sounds like a race car,” said Reed. “I said “what?!”

Turns out, all four catalytic converters were swiped from underneath the truck after the thief made a series of short, clean, cuts.

Police believe he likely used a battery-powered saw.

“I knew it was exhaust-related, but I didn’t know it was catalytic converters,” said Reed. “I’ve never heard of them being stolen.”

Catalytic converters are part of a vehicle’s exhaust assembly and help filter out pollution.

Mechanic Robert Zaharatos of Dennis Automotive Service said they’re a hot commodity with crooks because the interior contains small amounts of precious metals, like platinum, that can be sold as scrap.

“You just creep under with a saw and get it off,” said Zaharatos. “A pro could do it in about 20 seconds.”

In addition to a pair of incidents at Willow Fork Park, law enforcement agencies in the Katy area have responded to more than a dozen recent catalytic converter thefts. They include cars parked outside a hotel and Katy Mills Mall.

“They know people are parking for a long time and are gone from their cars,” said Reed. “That’s what they’re doing.”

Toyota trucks, like the one Reed’s son drives, are a common target because police say they have multiple converters and are easy to get under.

It may cost Reed up to $3,000 to repair.

“They need to do something to keep this from happening,” said Reed.

You can call police with any information on the recent catalytic converter thefts. Meanwhile, try and park in busy and well-lit areas in public. 

Car alarm systems triggered by vibrations could also help. 

ALSO POPULAR ON KHOU.COM: