Catalytic converters thefts going down but still high when compared to pre-pandemic levels

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CENTRAL TEXAS (KXAN) — Austin police report they’re seeing thefts of catalytic converters go down. From August to September, those thefts dropped by nearly half.

Despite that drop, APD said thefts remain high when compared to pre-pandemic cases. Police said they believe the reason for that is because of what is inside these devices. Each catalytic converter carries a small amount of three precious metals — platinum, palladium and rhodium. Prices for these have gone up during the pandemic.

A comparison of catalytic converter thefts in 2020 and 2021. Chart courtesy of APD

APD started to see thefts go down after they made several arrests this summer. They say those arrests included teenagers and young adults from Houston and some who were experiencing homelessness. However, the problem is not isolated to Austin. Cedar Park police said they’re facing the same issue.

“We’ve seen a rash of catalytic converters being stolen,” Sergeant Scott Buchanan of Cedar Park Police said. It’s not just Cedar Park, it’s all over the area. In the last six months, we pulled 20 different cases in relation to catalytic converters being stolen and some of those are from car dealerships so it’s a larger number than just 20 being stolen.”

Those at an area Cedar Park car dealership told KXAN off-camera they were hit this year and had heard from other friends in the car dealership industry about the same issue.

APD said they will continue to work to get legislation passed that would make it harder for thieves to sell these catalytic converters in hopes of deterring thefts.

Tips to keep your vehicle safe from catalytic converter thieves

Cedar Park Police shared the following tips in an effort to help people keep their vehicles safe.

  • Park in a well-lit area
  • If possible, park inside a garage
  • Engrave your car VIN on your catalytic converter
  • Have it welded to your car frame
  • Calibrate your alarm system to detect vibrations

As of September, east Austin was the hot spot for thieves, specifically the Windsor Park area near Interstate 35 and U.S. 290. Austin Police said the top three cars to get hit include Toyota Prius, Honda Element and Toyota Tundra. Last month, 414 Prius’ were targeted.

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