NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (PIX11) — Nearly 40 catalytic converters were recovered from a suspect’s car by the New Rochelle Police Department on Tuesday.

“When they saw us in the area – they were observant to our unmarked vehicles – they dropped the suitcase and fled,” Capt. Collins Coyne of the New Rochelle Police Criminal Investigations Division said.

The department was notified by the Westchester County Police Real Time Crime Center that a car suspected to be used by catalytic converter thieves entered the city of New Rochelle from I-95.

“We set up surveillance,” Coyne added. “We had detectives in the area ready to go.”

At around 2:15 p.m., they found the Dodge Challenger in the Home Depot parking lot just as the driver was handing off a suitcase to another man. When the suspects saw police, officials said the man receiving the suitcase drove off in a black Jeep Cherokee and the man handing it off ran away leaving the car behind with all the evidence.

“We impounded the car for further investigation after we found the suitcase full of catalytic converters and we found 36 more catalytic converters in the vehicle,” Coyne said.

A total of 39 catalytic converters were recovered.

Thefts for these car parts have risen the last couple of years because of the limited global supply and the precious metals inside which can be worth anywhere from $300 to $1,000 when taken to the scrap yard.

“You can go under the car, cut it out with a Sawzall and quickly get away with it,” Coyne said.

To prevent these crimes, the police department suggests to always park your car in your home garage if you have one. If you don’t have a garage but have a driveway, park it there with cameras. If you have neither a garage nor driveway, park it in a well-lit area.

Some car owners are also getting their VIN numbers etched into their catalytic converters. Having your mechanic install a metal plate over it is an option too.

The investigation for Tuesday’s crime is ongoing and the police department is asking anyone who may have information on the suspects or the case to contact them.