Catalytic converter thefts increasing in East Texas

It’s a crime on the rise that most East Texans wouldn’t think to look for, but it can happen in minutes: catalytic converter theft.
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 3:58 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - It’s a crime on the rise that most East Texans wouldn’t think to look for, but it can happen in minutes: catalytic converter theft.

Several happened in the Longview area recently, and police want drivers to take precautions to keep from becoming the next victim.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, since 2020 claims of catalytic converter thefts have increased by nearly 300%.

“This has been a crime we’ve had to investigate. The other day we had 2 in the same area,” says Longview Police Officer Brandon Thornton.

The catalytic converter is a device attached to a vehicle’s exhaust system, designed to reduce emissions, pollutants and toxic gases produced by the combustion engine.

“All it takes is getting up under the vehicle and making 2 cuts on the exhaust,” Thornton says.

But, it’s not the outside of the converter; it’s what’s on the inside that thieves are after, precious metals: palladium, rhodium and platinum.

“The precious metals on the inside are worth quite a bit of money to those who want to purchase them,” Brandon says.

There are also specific vehicles that are targeted, having multiple converters, such as the Toyota Tundra.

Police have tips on how to guard against this kind of theft.

“Parking in a well lit area. Park your vehicle near a security camera, maybe we have a little video footage to go and find this thief. Install motion detector lighting. You can etch your VIN number on the bottom of your catalytic converter,” says Thornton.

Problems also continue after the thefts take place.

“The parts are not readily available, so people are waiting months and months to get it replaced,” Thornton says.

Longview police have no evidence at this time that the thefts are an organized effort.