OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) — The Opelousas City Marshal is cracking down on catalytic converter thefts and this comes after thieves targeted a car dealership in the 1400 block of North Main Street.

In just one night, they stole the catalytic converters out of every vehicle in the parking lot.

“We’re trying to prevent that with all the car lots,” Opelousas City Marshal Paul Mouton said.

He says he and his officers are taking this seriously, as these thefts pose a huge threat to local businesses.

“We’re going out as a team tonight, a six-man team, and we’re going to patrol all business places and their car lots. We’re going to check everything,” he said.

Marshal Mouton says while they deal with this issue, there’s another problem on top of this one, though: a problem he believes could be what’s leading to the thefts.

“We are short of people, and this is what happens when you’re short of people. People know we’re shorthanded, and they do crimes late at night knowing we might not catch them in the act because we’re so short-handed of people,” the marshal told News Ten.

He says with less officers, there’s a lack of patrolling, and he believes criminals are taking advantage of the situation.

Mouton wants to reassure the community, however, that they’re doing what they can to stop the thefts and reduce crime.

“I want the public to know that I’m going to protect them with what I got. I don’t have much, but I will protect the public and the business people,” Marshal Mouton said.

He and his officers will be patrolling Opelousas, keeping an eye out for thefts, over the next few days.