VANCOUVER -- Delta police are investigating the theft of catalytic converters that were stolen off of three ambulances.

Cris Leykauf, spokesperson for the Delta Police Department, said the theft was reported to police on March 31, but it's believed the devices were stolen sometime between the evening of March 26 and the morning of March 31.

The ambulances were parked at a maintenance facility for repairs on Annacis Island. Police believe the suspect cut a hole into the fence to gain access and then cut the catalytic converters off of the vehicles.

"It's a particularly upsetting crime," said Leykauf. "It's resonating with the community because it's rather unbelievable to see someone targeting ambulances at this time when they're so desperately needed."

Fortunately, the ambulances have since been repaired and are now back in service.

Thieves often steal catalytic converters because the parts contain valuable metals such as platinum. They will then re-sell them at recycling facilities.

"It can be quite expensive to have these catalytic converters replaced. And oftentimes trucks or SUVs—those kind of vehicles—​are targeted because they're higher off the ground and frankly just easier to crawl under," said Leykauf. "It's a growing problem, not just in Delta but across the Metro Vancouver area."

Leykauf said police saw an increase in this type of crime in 2019, with the trend appearing to continue into 2020.

"We're just really frustrated with this. We're hoping someone might have some information to share with police about this crime," she said. "Whether they saw something suspicious and haven't yet spoken to police or perhaps they have some dash-cam footage, anything like that."

Police are working with ICBC and Crown counsel to determine what charges might be considered.

"We're all doing our part and everyone is trying so hard to ensure we flatten the curve, that we stay home and we can be as responsible as possible," said Leykauf. "We desperately need to maintain access to our hospitals, our health-care providers who are over-burdened and doing such an enormously important job. It's really astonishing to believe someone could target ambulances at this time."

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to contact Delta police at 604-946-4411.