Finding a decent parking spot in downtown Tuscaloosa is always a challenge, but there's something you need to know if you plan to leave your car overnight.

Any vehicle left in the dark is a prime target for thieves.

We all know it's important to lock our car doors, as anything left in an unlocked vehicle could be stolen. This is especially true for firearms; however, even locked cars aren't safe in Tuscaloosa.

Why?

Thieves are now taking the catalytic converters from vehicles left in the dark. Your car's catalytic converter is part of your vehicle's exhaust emissions system, and the precious metals inside a single catalytic converter can fetch as much as much as $250 for thieves.

If your catalytic converter is stolen, your repair bill could be as much as $3,000--so you need to pay attention.

Catalytic converter theft is on the rise in Tuscaloosa. A recent post to the Alabama Student Ticket Exchange group on Facebook detailed a student's experience in Temerson Square downtown.

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Note that the poster mentioned that the University of Alabama Police Department said catalytic converter theft is becoming more common this summer.

Thieves also stooped so low as to steal catalytic converters from Tuscaloosa's Habitat for Humanity in December and from SD Allen Ministries last July.

What can you to to keep your car safe?

Ensure that you park your vehicle in a well-lit area. Thieves prefer to work in the dark, so parking next to a bright streetlight seems to be an effective deterrent.

Motortrend also suggests purchasing a catalytic converter shield or having your license plate number etched onto your catalytic converter as a way to track your converter should it be stolen.

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