DENVER (KDVR) — It isn’t just auto thefts that are at all-time highs in Colorado, but thefts of car parts themselves.

Catalytic converter theft has been spiking through the course of the last three years according to both local law enforcement and national researchers in the insurance and automotive industries. Thieves in the southwest target high-riding automobiles with easy undercarriage access or hybrid vehicles with more precious metal-packed converters.

In Colorado, catalytic converter theft rates exploded nearly 8,000% in the last three years, according to new analysis of National Insurance Crime Bureau and Google search trends by public data portal BeenVerified. It now has one of the nation’s highest rates of these thefts.

Thefts mushroomed virtually overnight in the Centennial State. There were 25 catalytic converter thefts in Colorado in 2019. That grew to 2,185 thefts in 2021, a 7,948% increase. Colorado had the nation’s fourth-highest rate of such thefts.

In 2022, there were 117 thefts per 1,000 vehicles in Colorado. Only New York, Texas and Connecticut had higher catalytic converter theft rates.

On the brighter side, Colorado’s catalytic converter theft rate did dip from 2021 to 2022. The number of thefts went down 8% – still higher than prepandemic years.