HPD sees increase in catalytic converter thefts; replacements may take months

HOUSTON – One Humble woman now has to wait three months to have her catalytic converters replaced because they were stolen by thieves at the Townsen Park & Ride.

METRO said there has been a rash of catalytic converter thefts, and METRO Police are working with other agencies to crack down on the thefts.

Annette Bryant has parked at the Townsen Park & Ride in Humble every day for several years until the pandemic. Returning to work Monday, her commute was typical.

“Got here at 6:30 am like I always do. [I] park, get on the bus, go downtown, work my day,” Bryant said.

However, coming back around 4:15 pm that afternoon, she noticed something odd.

“I go to start up my Toyota Tundra that I’ve had for two months. It’s less than a year old and it sounded like an 18-wheeler! And the ‘Check Engine’ light’s on,” Bryant said.

Calling for help, she eventually got in touch with a local Toyota dealer less than a mile down the road. The staff there informed Byrant that this was not the first time they had seen this.

“[I was told] that it’s going on around here that [thieves are] stealing catalytic converters,” Bryant said. “[The dealership staff member] goes, ‘About a week or two ago, we got a whole slew of them from that Park & Ride, and it sounds like it just happened again.’ "

Bryant got a rental car with generous help from the dealer. However, because of a backup in supplies, the wait is long.

”That’s when I found out the wonderful news that these parts are on backorder, and it’s a three-month wait!” Bryant said.

Luckily, her insurance will cover the repair, but she has to pay a $500 deductible. She still feels lucky. The replacement costs are up there.

“It’s close to $5,000 of damage just to the vehicle,” Bryant said. “$2800 apiece. There were two on mine.”

METRO confirmed to KPRC that there were more than 25 cases of catalytic converter thefts from April and May between their Park & Ride locations.

METRO stated to KPRC:

As has been widely reported, there has been a rash of these kinds of thefts across our area and across the country. METRO PD has been working with HPD, Memorial Village PD, Jersey Village PD, and HCCO Pct 5 to compare suspect information. MPD’s investigation has yielded several suspect leads and the department hopes to soon make an arrest. In the meantime, MPD is increasing patrols at Park & Ride locations and encouraging all motorists to report any suspicious activity at the lots.

“I’m angry because all I’m doing is...I’m trying to have a job,” Bryant said.

METRO Police are asking any other victims of catalytic converter thefts to report the crime.

Houston police said these vehicle models tend to be targeted for catalytic converter thefts:

  • Toyota Tundra
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Ford F-250
  • Honda Element & CRV

Houston police are urging residents to follow some prevention tips to help lessen chances of becoming the next in a long line of property crime victims:

  • Park in well-lighted areas
  • Use your garage
  • Etching your VIN or license plate into your converters
  • Bright high temp paint (lets police know converter has been marked)
  • Install a skid plate or large cover to the bottom of your vehicle
  • Upgrade car alarms to activate when the vehicle is jacked up on one side
  • Use aftermarket products like straps or wire cages that make it much more difficult for your converter to be cut off