Houston area auto shop owner says armed thieves stole catalytic converters, AGAIN

Owners say these crimes are becoming more dangerous

HOUSTON – A northwest Houston business is left dealing with the aftermath of yet another catalytic converter theft. This case involved armed thieves.

HJC Auto Salvage has been in business for more than a decade. Co-owners of the business worry that catalytic converter theft crimes are happening too often and are becoming more dangerous.

James Strickland, co-owner of HJC Auto Salvage, has been selling cars and parts for more than 10 years. However, after the pandemic started, he noticed a growing trend: catalytic converter thefts.

“I’ve never seen it this bad,” Strickland said.

After multiple catalytic converter thefts, Strickland said he is now out $20,000. The latest case happened just Wednesday around 1 a.m.

Strickland says he had just come back from Missouri City after buying a Toyota Tundra for inventory.

“It’s a whole different level of sneaking in and trying to steal something,” Strickland said.

Strickland said their surveillance video shows two thieves making their way on property. One of them was carrying what appeared to be a gun with a magazine clip, Strickland added.

“They looked to be very professional at it. They had backpacks with tools in them,” he said.

It appeared that the suspects knew what they wanted and were quick to steal the catalytic converters.

“We believe they followed us in and came back later that evening,” Strickland said.

He said that his legal sales of catalytic converters make up 80% of his business’ profit.

“They’re stealing our profit. They’re stealing the food off our table,” Strickland added.

However, he said he is most concerned that the thieves are becoming more brazen and worries that people could be hurt.

“They brought a weapon to here,” he said. “They were going to take what they were going to take even if they had to shoot someone.”

Stricklend said that people should etch the VIN numbers on their catalytic converters, paint them and cage them.

However, he warns that after a catalytic converter has already been replaced once, if thieves were to try and resell it, it would only be worth $20 or less.

Stricklend said that something needs to be done about the people who are giving the illegal sellers business or else someone might get hurt.

“We need to after these buyers who are buying the converters illegally. They’re posting ads on Craig’s List, Facebook and police need to go after them,” he said.