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Why people steal catalytic converters and how to stop them

It's easy for thieves to get catalytic converters, especially under lifted cars like trucks, because they can get in and out quickly, avoiding detection.

BRYAN, Texas — Catalytic converter thefts continue to rise. Thieves are looking to take any make, model - really, it doesn't matter. Not only are you losing money, local auto repair shops are being overrun with cars that need fixing or people who want to avoid getting ripped off.

Thieves can steal your catalytic converter in just a matter of a minute or two. Recently, experts said the rise in these thefts is due to the high price the catalytic converter is worth.

Johnny Uresti is the service manager at Pete's Auto Care Center. He said this rash of thefts isn't anything new.

"People have been messing with catalytic converters for years. Recently, it's gotten worse because of the market," Uresti said. "I mean, everything's getting more expensive right now. The costs of precious metals has gone up. Palladium, rhodium, the things that these converters are made out of. That's why they want them. It's the internals that they care about."

Uresti said it's easy for thieves to get catalytic converters, especially under lifted cars like trucks, because they can get in and out quickly, avoiding detection.

Catalytic converters average from $800 all the way up to $1,200 even for a used one. These thefts cause more work for mechanics and hurt the pockets of their customers.

"If somebody's lucky, they'll just cut the converters off, nothing else," Uresti said. But, if you're unlucky, they're messy about it. They cut wires and the harness going to it."

The damage these kinds of thefts can leave on your car can cause you to pay more out of pocket to fix. Police continue to put out warnings about catalytic converter thefts. But, the public is really the best way to stop these criminals.

If you see something, say something. Don't approach people you suspect are committing the crime. Call police from a safe distance. It never hurts for an officer to come by and check out a situation.

You can also have your catalytic converter welded to stop it from being an easy mark.

How to prevent catalytic converter theft

While not always the case, thieves targeting a catalytic converter will go for vehicles that are higher off the ground due to the ease and efficiency of the crime. But, don't let that give you a peace of mind. This kind of theft can happen to any vehicle owner. There are a couple of things you can do to help protect yourself from being a victim:

  • Have your catalytic converter welded to your vehicle's frame.
  • Install a catalytic converter anti-theft device.
  • Install a car alarm.
  • Install video surveillance outside your home.
  • Engrave your VIN or license plate number into the converter.
  • Park in busy, well-lit areas of a parking lot.

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