Baily Parrell takes her Honda CRV to and from work every day, but lately the Manitoba woman is scrambling to get around.

When starting her vehicle after work Sunday evening, Parrell realized something wasn’t right.

“It literally sounded like a motorcycle was starting right beside me. It was crazy,” Parrell said.

“So I immediately turned it off.”

A family member instructed her to check beneath the car and Parrell found a missing chunk where her catalytic converter should be.

Fountain Tire automotive technician Chris Jerome said the catalytic converter is an important part of a vehicle.

“After combustion, after you get the fire and the exhaust and the fuel, it re-burns excessive gases in there,” Jerome said.

“It’s for emissions, to make everything cleaner and to make better air come out of the back.”

Jerome said that driving a vehicle missing a catalytic converter can cause major issues in the long run.

“You can do massive damage to your engine. The engine relies on back pressure and when the catalytic converter is gone, there’s nothing.” Jerome said.

According to the Winnipeg Police Service, catalytic converter thefts are up about 15 per cent from this time last year.

Const. Tammy Skrabek said the service sees a number of thefts every summer. She said the pieces are easy to steal, which makes them more appealing to thieves.

“You can do it in minutes,” Skrabek said.

“The catalytic converter is a small, canister-type piece that’s underneath the muffler, and they’re just cutting it off at either end.”

While there is little drivers can do to protect themselves, police stressed the importance of people reporting the thefts, as well as reporting suspicious activity.

In the future, Parrell plans to park in areas where she knows there are security cameras. It’s a frustrating loss for the young woman, who has worked hard to take care of her SUV.

“It’s a horrible feeling because I just had work put into my vehicle,” said Parrell.

“So now that’s a lot of money gone down the drain and I can’t use my vehicle.”