Parked cars robbed for parts in Northern Virginia

Crooks are stealing parts from parked cars in several northern Virginia neighborhoods. The incidents happened within 24 hours in the last week.

Manassas City Police say there have been three incidents in three different neighborhoods across the area.

One incident happened within walking distance from an auto shop on Grant Avenue.

Bob Stevenson, manager at Roger's Foreign & Domestic Auto Repair says it's what's inside the catalytic converter that's attracting thieves.

"Basically it's what the converter is made of, platinum and palladium, which is really expensive, so what they do is cut the converter off, take it somewhere else. Usually, on the average you can get anywhere from $60-100 dollars per converter," says Stevenson.

Stevenson went on to say the catalytic converters are removed in about 15 minutes with a saw. They're nestled underneath the car. Some cars have two.

City of Manassas police say all three reports of catalytic converters being stolen were made between Thursday night into Friday morning. In each case, the victim's car was parked in front of their home.

One incident happened on the 9000 block of Sandalwood Drive. Police say they think the cases are connected and a person or group is responsible for swiping the car parts.

Investigators want to help you avoid becoming a victim.

"We're encouraging the public to try to put their vehicles in well-lit areas in front of your residence. Try to use exterior lighting to illuminate your vehicle," says Sarah Maroney, Crime Prevention Specialist with the City of Manassas Police Department.

"You can also make sure your alarm system is enabled on your vehicle. If you're out in public you can park your vehicle near building entrances or any area that's going to have high pedestrian foot traffic."

The other two cases happened nearby. One was at the 9000 block of Battlefield Drive and another at the 10000 block of Magnolia Drive.

Police say whoever is behind the theft likely has ties or connections to a scrap yard where they can easily sell the parts for quick cash.

Police say thefts from cars, theft of car parts, and car vandalism are the most commonly reported property offenses in Manassas.

Anyone with information that could aid detectives in their investigation is urged to call (703) 257-8000.