Catalytic converter thefts are going up in Texas, rising 5,300% since 2019, according to an AAA Texas report.
AAA Texas reported that catalytic converter theft began rising in 2020 when the pandemic forced a nationwide lockdown, leading to a high rate of unemployment and more people working from home, leaving their high-riding vehicles such as trucks and SUVs idle or being driven less.
Thieves who steal catalytic converters usually sell them to scrapyards or internet buyers who then resell them to recyclers interested in the expensive metals inside them.
According to AAA Texas, recyclers will typically pay $50 to $250 per catalytic converter. However, it will cost victims around $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the vehicle, to replace them. Sometimes, victims will need to buy a new vehicle altogether if production of their catalytic converters has been discontinued.
“Texas in general is a hot spot. According to AAA data, there has been a 5,000% increase in catalytic converter claims since 2019,” said Joshua Zuber, AAA Texas spokesperson.
The data showed that Dallas County is third on the list of counties with the highest record of catalytic converter theft claims, with 30 reported from January to May 2022.
The city of Dallas has been plagued with catalytic converter thefts in recent years. Dallas police data showed that these thefts rose by over 300% in 2021 compared to the previous year.
Harris County, with 115 claims from January to May 2022 (a more-than-100% increase on the 114 from the whole of 2021), had the highest number of reported thefts, according to AAA Texas. Next on AAAA’s top-five list was Fort Bend with 42 ( 24 in 2021), while Bexar, 27 (20 in 2021), and Tarrant, 17 (25 in 2021) came in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
AAA Texas urges car owners to park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances to avoid falling victim to catalytic converter theft. Those with garages are advised to park their car inside and keep the garage door shut at all times. High-clearance vehicles like trucks or SUVs should be parked in safe areas.
Car owners are also encouraged to make it harder for thieves by welding their vehicle’s catalytic converter to its frame. Buying a converter-protection device can also help prevent the thefts, according to AAA Texas.
Car owners should consider engraving their vehicle identification number (VIN) on catalytic converters, as it could alert scrap dealers that it was stolen and make it easier to find the owner. Security devices, such as locks that attach to converters can also make it harder for thieves to steal them, and car alarms can be calibrated to go off when they detect vibration.
Finally, a good insurance policy is recommended, as most insurance companies offer optional comprehensive coverage policies that cover replacement costs for damage to a vehicle not caused by a crash.
“For many people, our vehicles are some of the most expensive purchases we make during our lifetimes, so protecting them should be a priority,” said AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “With the cost of many goods and services on the rise, the last thing vehicle owners need is a costly car repair.”