SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Thieves are taking advantage of fairgoers in parking lots at Cal Expo by swiping a valuable part from their car’s exhaust system.

Since the fair opened 12 days ago, 11 cars have had their catalytic converters stolen. Vehicles sitting higher off the ground have been targeted, as it’s easier for thieves to get underneath and out quickly.

The costly crime usually takes just minutes to do. The part that converts emissions into less toxic exhaust is a popular target for thieves, because the gold, platinum and other metals inside it are easily scrapped for cash.

Several thefts happened on Tuesday night in parking lot A.

“Unfortunately, this is an easy target sometimes with as many people that come through here in such a short amount of time,” said fair spokeswoman Lara Popyack.

The thefts can leave victims with a huge bill, costing anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 to replace depending on the type of car.

Popyack says there is security that walks the fairgrounds and keeps an eye on the parking lots, but after the spike in thefts, they will ramp up their patrols.

“I can reassure you, without going into detail, that we are doing everything in our power,” she said. “We have all hands on deck.”

She recommends trying to park as close to a light or in front of the property as possible, and to make sure to hide all your valuables and lock your car.

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