ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — It’s an ongoing problem across the state: catalytic converter thefts. Now, Bernalillo County said it’s found a cheap, simple solution that’s almost made the problem disappear.

“This is the catalytic converter on this vehicle. The thieves generally come underneath, and they’ll cut the pipe right here, and right here, and be on their way to the recyclers in under a minute,” said a county employee in a county-produced video.

The county said it was losing about two to three catalytic converters a week, mostly from buses at community centers.

“[On] buses, the catalytic converter system is 20 feet long. Catalytic converters have precious metals inside of them,” said Jared Divett, Director of Fleet and Facilities for Bernalillo County. “They’re usually shipped overseas, but thieves find they can make a quick buck from taking a catalytic converter and taking it to a recycler.”

Divett said it was costing taxpayers about $3,000 a week. They were looking for solutions when they found one right in front of them.

“Shields, plates, cages, there were all types of after-market solutions for this type of thing and one of our community center workers said, ‘Why don’t we just pile up some dirt underneath the vehicle so that they can’t get under there,'” said Divett. The county started using old millings to build berms.

“We just wanted to do simple and cheap, and this was almost free with a little bit of labor. Free’s good to us,” he said. The solution has proved pretty effective.

“We reduced catalytic converter theft almost completely. We haven’t had a catalytic computer theft on one of our community center vehicles since we started this solution,” said Divett.

The county said the berms have also helped with a reduction of fuel theft, but the berms do come with some barriers.

“Limitation, can’t be done on asphalt because wouldn’t drain right, and you don’t want to put it anywhere where there’s not good drainage in the parking lot,” said Divett. They also may need to be rebuilt every few years due to rain and runoff, but it’s all a small price to pay to keep the thieves away.

“If you have a dirt lot and you want to prevent a catalytic converter from being stolen, this is the cheapest and easiest way to do it,” said Divett. He said since implementing the berms, NMDOT has also looked into doing so.