Two Akron-area police departments have been contending with reports of thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles in February.

At least nine residents and businesses in Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge reported thefts from more than a dozen vehicles, with damages to the vehicles reported in many of the cases.

"We’re well aware that this has increased for us and other agencies as well," said Tallmadge Police Chief Ron Williams on Wednesday, adding that he believes the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and Brimfield police are also investigating thefts.

Calls made to Cuyahoga Falls police seeking comment were not returned before press time. Stow Police Lt. Ken Mifflin and Munroe Falls Police Chief Jerry Hughes said, also on Wednesday, that they were unaware of any reports coming in to their departments.

"They happen from time to time in Stow," said Mifflen. "It comes in spurts."

Catalytic converters are devices that convert toxic chemicals into safer ones before they are released in a vehicle’s exhaust. They contain valuable metals, such as copper, making them a theft target. Williams said that while the recent thefts could be connected, Tallmadge police have not seen any evidence of this and the spate of incidents could be due to the economics of metals.

"We had a problem with this a few years ago and then the value had gone down and they weren’t worth taking anymore," said Williams. "I’m assuming the value is back up."

In Cuyahoga Falls, there were five reports, with the loss and damages estimated at more than $11,000, from Feb. 9 to 18. These included thefts from residents on Americana Drive, Beacon Hill Circle and Kennedy Boulevard.

The Newberry Street U-Haul facility reported Feb. 9 that someone cut the converters off of at least six rental trucks while they were parked outside during the night, with the loss estimated at as much as $7,000.

Four reports of thefts in Tallmadge, with the loss and damages estimated at a total of nearly $6,000, came from residents on North Avenue and a business on Crystal Parkway from Feb. 12 to 17. A North Avenue man reported that in addition to the catalytic converter, the O2 sensor and miscellaneous other parts were taken from his vehicle, with the loss and damage estimated at $4,000.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.