FAIRFAX, Va. (WDVM) — Fairfax County police say catalytic converter thefts are on the rise in Fairfax County Virginia, with robberies more than doubling in the past year.

Between January to April of 2021 there were 28 reported stolen catalytic converters, in comparison to that same time this year, those numbers skyrocketed over 300.

Catalytic converters have become popular parts for car thieves since the pandemic, which has caused a disruption in the supply chain, making the precious metals found in catalytic converters increase in demand.

2004 to 2009 Toyota Prius models are the most targeted cars and can cost drivers more than $2,000 to replace and repair those stolen parts.

In March, lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly approved legislation that will toughen penalties for stealing catalytic converters.

The House bill is awaiting approval from Virginia Gov. Youngkin, but will make it a Class 6 felony to steal a catalytic converter, punishable by up to five years behind bars. It will also make it a Class 6 felony to cause $1,000 or more in damage to a car by removing parts.

Police say drivers can protect their vehicle by investing in a catalytic converter shield, etching a VIN ID onto the side of the converter, or grabbing high-heat spray paint and spray painting their converter to deter would-be thieves.

Drivers are encouraged to park their car in a nicely lit area or garage for further prevention to theft.