HOUSTON – After a rash of catalytic converter thefts in Greater Houston, law enforcement and AAA are putting out resources with what car owners can do to help deter people from stealing their catalytic converters.
1) Park your car in the garage or a lighted area near an entrance - Houston police, an agency leading in the efforts to fight catalytic converter thefts, said that the goal is to make it harder and deter criminals from stealing for a quick buck. If your car is in a garage, it would greatly reduce the perpetrator’s ability to get near your car, deterring theft. AAA Texas said lighted areas will also deter criminals.
2) Consider having your catalytic converter welded onto the car frame - AAA Texas said this could be an option, as many thieves are using a saw to quickly saw the converter off in a matter of minutes. “Having your catalytic converter welded onto your car’s frame, that may make it more difficult to steal,” Joshua Zuber, AAA Texas spokesperson, told KPRC.
3) Consider buying security features such as catalytic converter locks for your vehicle. HPD recommends installing a skid plate or large cover to the bottom of your vehicle - “What’s happening is they’re literally taking pipe cutters to saw off catalytic converters, so if someone has access to the right tools, it only takes a few minutes,” Zuber said.
4) Engrave your vehicle’s VIN number on the catalytic converter - AAA Texas said it also helps if those buying the parts know where the part came from. “That may alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen and may make it easier to find the owner,” Zuber said.
5) Explore your car alarm capabilities - Houston police recommend that car owners upgrade car alarms to activate when the vehicle is jacked up on one side.
6) Paint the converter a bright high-temperature paint - “[This] lets police know [the] converter has been marked,” HPD stated.
Why are thieves stealing them? The pandemic has caused economic distress and hardships for many. Unfortunately, that’s led to enterprising criminals with more time on their hands who are looking for ways to make money.
The earning potential for catalytic converters is high when they are sold to metal scrappers. Two of the three rare earth metals used in catalytic converters, rhodium and palladium, are worth big money.
The pandemic has led to higher unemployment, more people working from home, and lots of high riding vehicles such as trucks and SUVs left idle or being driven less this year. The crime of opportunity for stealing catalytic converters during the pandemic has been ideal.
More info from HPD: https://www.houstontx.gov/police/nr/2021/may/nr051321-2.htm
HPD’s tips on how to prevent catalytic converter thefts: