SUDBURY -- Gilles Brisebois, who owns Lee Valley Motors, has recently been forced to enhance security cameras at the dealership.

The move comes after the business lost thousands of dollars after several catalytic converters were stolen.

"I believe the people that are doing this have a pretty good knowledge of what they are doing," said Brisebois. "And they are out a 4 o'clock in the morning cutting catalytic converters off and it's hard to get them on video because it's dark."

The theft of a catalytic converter only takes minutes, but in many instances, other parts are damaged.

"Sometimes these thefts are not being done in such a precise manner and they are causing more damage to the vehicle when they are taking the items off of them," said Mary Ann Mutch, the general manager of Lee Valley Motors. "So what could have been a $500 repair has turned into a $4,500 repair."

Thefts have more than tripled

Greater Sudbury Police said thefts of catalytic converters have more than tripled recently.

"Between June 1st and Dec. 31st in 2020, we did receive 52 reports of thefts of catalytic converters, in comparison to 12 that were reported in the same time period in 2019," said Kaitlyn Dunn of the Greater Sudbury Police Service.

Other auto dealers confirmed to CTV News thefts of catalytic converters are rampant right now and many have hired nighttime security to protect their properties.

It's an added cost that makes doing business right now even tougher.

"Now we have had to beef up our security that we already have and we are putting in a night shift for security," said Brisebois. "And the cost of that during a pandemic, you know we employ four people here and that is quite expensive as it is."

Brisebois would like to see the sale of used catalytic converters regulated. Right now you can go online and find a buyer for cash with no trail of the transaction.