BEAUMONT, Texas — Car parts are on the move. You hardly see them, but once they're gone, it makes a big difference. We're talking about catalytic converters.
Houston police found more than $14,000 worth of stolen parts over the weekend and officers in Southeast Texas say they're starting to have issues, too.
It's what's inside of the converter that makes them attractive for thieves. Anyone driving a vehicle nowadays will have a catalytic converter under their car.
The purpose of it? Well, it's to protect you from toxic chemicals, but it can't do that if it's missing in action.
“I was just shocked. Yeah, I mean just literally mouth hanging open,” Nederland Mattress Elite manager Melody Pontiff said.
Six days ago, Pontiff noticed something was a little off with one of their moving trucks.
“We went out to do a delivery, and they realized how loud it was, you know, it was super loud we're like what the world,” Pontiff said.
A few steps to the driver’s side and a peek under this truck revealed there was a pricey part missing.
“Realized that it was actually the catalytic converter that was sawed off, like literally just saw it off. That's how we found it,” Pontiff said.
Nederland Police Chief Gary Porter calls them the catalytic crooks.
“The catalytic converter thieves are apparently in the area again, we, we have them. it's kind of cyclic when they show up,” Porter said.
But what makes this car part so valuable? Tim Baker with Baker Auto Repair said it's what's inside that makes these crooks crawl under cars.
“There's a precious metal inside these units. Some of them have titanium and platinum is another product that's a lot of times in these units,” Baker said.
And those precious metals translate into big bucks.
“They'll find a vendor. There are vendors that'll buy these units,” Baker said.
Catalytic converter crooks can cause damage to cars and a car owner's pocket.
“And the sad thing about it, it's really expensive to have them replaced. In an older model used car, they might go from $500 to in the 1000s you know, for a new vehicle,” Gary said.
There are ways to avoid becoming a victim to this crime. It's starts with looking into extra security.
“Only thing you could do is possibly put an alarm on a car that can pick up noises from vibration, that might help,” Baker said.
It's also important to watch where you park your car when you go to different businesses. You want to park near a pole light and a security camera.
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