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Katy Residents Speak Out on Rising Catalytic Converter Thefts and What Can Be Done


April 13, 2022

By Natalie Cook Clark

Catalytic converter thefts continues to be a problem in Katy and residents are speaking out. From busy Katy parking lots to Katy ISD student lots, it seems that no place is safe from these crimes. Katy ISD responds and educates community.

Screenshot from KISD video.

Catalytic Converters Stolen from Katy ISD Student Lots, Local Businesses

Katy residents take to social media to warn others of their catalytic converter thefts taking place in crowded Katy parking lots and even Katy ISD student lots. These crimes are happening in broad daylight that leaves many asking what is being done.

“I was at the store called At Home and someone stole it,” says Jenny Lilley. Her converter was stolen on Monday afternoon.

Andy Garnett’s Cinco Ranch High School student had their catalytic converter stolen from the student parking lot last week.

“It happens every week there, so the campus police told us. The school said there isn’t anything they can do as they don’t have cctv in the kids parking lot,” says Andy Garnett.

Katy ISD Addresses Catalytic Converter Theft

“There has been a notable uptick in catalytic converter theft across the country,” says Maria DiPetta, manager of Katy ISD media relations/spokesperson, who says that all Katy ISD campus parking lots are fitting with surveillance cameras.

“The District’s police department actively patrols areas and provides preventative tips and measures to help protect students, staff and patrons from being victimized by this crime,” add DiPetta.

Katy Magazine readers report recent catalytic converter theft at Kohl’s, Whiskey Cake, Cinemark, Katy Mills, Westland Church, Metro Park-n-ride and other Katy locations.

Katy Resident Buys a Cover to Protect Converter

Rob Tulp had his stolen in the middle of the day while at work in Katy. “I bought a cover from the Toyota dealership and had it installed by the shop that repaired my truck,” says Tulp.

"Criminals target often target parking lots, strip centers, and restaurants," says Robert Henslee with Precinct 5. "They look for places where people are occupied."

What’s Being Done?

Katy Magazine reached out to several metal recycling companies and they all advised speaking with the Houston Police Department on the topic. Houston Police Department say this is difficult because it is not illegal to sell metal like that from these converters.

This is a problem seen across the entire country and last year 11 states past legislation to help thwart these crimes.

Texas legislators passed laws that help prevent the sale of stolen items such as catalytic converters. These laws ban the sale of converters without proof of ownership. They also tightening scrap metal dealers’ recordkeeping requirements and increase criminal penalties.

What is a Catalytic Converter?

Katy residents continue to see a rise in these crimes. A catalytic converter is a device used to reduce exhaust emissions from your vehicle. They are most commonly used on internal combustion engines fueled by petrol or diesel.

They are high theft items because they are valuable to scrap metal dealers. They contain precious metals, including rhodium, platinum, and palladium that can all be sold.

Top Targeted Vehicles

Some of the top cars targeted are: Toyota Tundra, Toyota Prius, Toyota Tacoma, Ford F-250, Honda Element and CRV just to name some.

"Large Toyota trucks are often targeted for their converters because of the amount of platinum and ease of access," explains Henslee.

“When they are stolen the damage can be costly,” says Sgt. Tracy Hicks with Houston Police Department. He reported that damage to a Toyota Tundra cost over $10,000 to repair.

Take Precautions

Katy ISD shares safety tips to help their students, faculty, staff, and community.

Top Tips:

  • Park your car in a well-lit area and if all possible keep it in your garage.

  • Spray the converter with bright, high temperature paint to mark it. This will help authorities and shops ID stolen converters.

  • When in a parking lot, park near the store and not near the exit. Criminals will look for an easy exit.

  • Engrave your license plate number or the last 4 digits of your VIN on the converter to help authorities ID it.

  • There are devices such as a plate that you can attach to the bottom of your vehicle to restrict access to the converter.

This is an ongoing problem in the area. Katy ISD Police urge the public to always report any suspicious activity that is occurring on Katy ISD property. Call them at 281-237-4000.


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