PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When Joseph Trilling and his wife came back from vacation last year, they instantly knew something wasn’t right with their car.

“We ended up getting in around 2 a.m. and started up the car,” Trilling recalled. “It sounded like the entire underneath was exploding.”

It turns out their catalytic converter was stolen while it was parked in a lot near T.F. Green Airport, a common area for thieves to swipe the costly car part.

“I took a look underneath a car and the entire tail pipe section had been cut out,” Trilling added.

The precious metals inside catalytic converters are what make the parts so valuable, and they hold their value when resold.

“It could cost someone several thousand dollars, it all depends on what kind of damage they do in order to steal that catalytic converter,” said Greg Costa from Safeway Oil Change and Automotive Services.

A recent Target 12 analysis of data found catalytic converter thefts have shot up in recent years.

AAA’s Gregory Smollen recommends car owners double check their insurance policy, so if a catalytic converter is stolen, they won’t have to foot the whole bill.

“What you want to do is look at your insurance declarations page,” Smollen said.

He advised people to make sure they have comprehensive coverage, which covers more than the catalytic converter.

“It covers a car theft, if you hit a deer, hail damage … anything that is not really an accident or collision,” he explained.

Most policies have a $250 to $500 deductible, according to Smollen. However, financed cars are required to have comprehensive coverage.

If you don’t already have comprehensive coverage, he said you can add it at any point during your policy period.

For anyone concerned their catalytic converter might get stolen, Smollen said some local police departments offer etching, which could deter thefts or notify the buyer that the part was stolen.

“You etch your VIN number or license plate into the catalytic converter,” he explained.

Smollen also suggested colorizing it with brightly colored spray paint.