Here are new items thieves are taking from vehicles

Damage to car + new technology = costly replacement after theft

Catalytic converters and truck tailgates have been hot items for thieves for years.

HOUSTON – By now, we know catalytic converters are something often stolen from vehicles but now there’s something else you should watch out for. Catalytic converters and truck tailgates have been hot items for thieves for years. Once the tailgate is open, thieves have easy access to something else they are now taking and it’s costing drivers a lot of money to get it fixed.

“What I like to do is talk to people and say, ‘look, here’s what crooks are doing,’” said HPD Sergeant Tracy Hicks, Auto Theft Division.

It’s Houston Police Sergeant Tracy Hick’s job to keep up with thieves in Houston so he can warn us about what to look out for. Sergeant Hicks joined KPRC 2 for an episode of “Ask Amy,” where we learned a lot about protecting your property. Besides telling us what to do to deter catalytic converter thieves, he warned about another hot ticket item right now.

Thieves taking taillights, causing expensive damage

Thieves have a new target for vehicles in Houston. Taillights are being stolen and damage is often done to wiring and other areas causing expensive repairs. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“We’re actually seeing an uptick of taillights, believe it or not, that’s the new, new,” he said. “Some of them are worth up to $2,000 a piece! If you have a newer vehicle with the lane departure software and then also there’s software that tells you if there’s someone in your blind spot, that’s a radar that shoots backward. Well, guess where those are at in your taillights?”

And aside from taking the actual lights, thieves usually cut wires causing expensive damage in the process. Of course, locking the tailgate is one way to prevent these thefts.

You can also try “anti-theft” light screws that do make them harder to remove (Some people also use anti-theft screws to secure license plates). Police said when you park somewhere, back your vehicle up against a structure like a fence or a garage to make it harder to access that area.

Thieves target taillights on vehicles. Police say one small thing you can do to deter thieves is to park backward against something. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Consider a car alarm with added security features

Hicks said another way to protect your vehicle is to invest in a newer vehicle alarm. Make sure it has vibration or motion sensors, so if someone is messing with your tail lights it will go off. A glass break sensor is another important, fairly new feature.

“And what that is, is people don’t understand that I can smash your driver’s window out, grab your purse or bag off the seat, and your alarm doesn’t go off,” said Sgt. Hicks. “If you have a glass break sensor, it’s actually a microphone in your car that senses what glass brake sounds like and it sets off the alarm.”

A car alarm can also get you up to a 10% discount on your vehicle insurance.

Hear more from Sgt. Hicks about ways to deter catalytic converter theft and how you might be able to get back your converter if it is stolen.

About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.