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Harris, Fort Bend counties lead the state in catalytic converter thefts, AAA reports

Stolen catalytic converter insurance claims up by 5,300% in Texas since 2019, AAA reports.

HOUSTON — This is not the title you want to win, but according to that new report from AAA, Harris County leads the whole state in catalytic converter thefts.

To make matters worse, Fort Bend County came in second on that list. After that are counties near Dallas and San Antonio.

Pretty much any car can be a target for thieves, but SUVs and fleet vehicles are prime targets.

Toyota Priuses are also hit a lot because they have two catalytic converters and more of the precious metals thieves want.

AAA Texas says theft claims started climbing in 2020 when the pandemic began and a lot of people lost their jobs.

Stealing then and selling catalytic converters became a quick way for thieves to make a few hundred bucks.

"Texas in general is a hot spot. According to AAA data, there has been a 5000% increase in catalytic converter claims since 2019,” Joshua Zuber, AAA Texas spokesperson, said.

AAA says its only July and Harris County has had more claims filed this year than all of last year.

There are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a target like parking in well-lit areas or your garage.

There are also locks you can buy to make your catalytic converter harder to steal.

Why are they stealing catalytic converters?

Once stolen, thieves may be able to sell detached catalytic converters for hundreds of dollars to scrapyards or internet buyers, according to AAA Texas.

After they are sold, catalytic converters can be resold to recyclers interested in the expensive metals inside them.

Recyclers will pay $50 to $250 per catalytic converter. Unfortunately for the victims of catalytic converter theft, the cost to replace the part could cost between $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the car or truck, and the vehicle may not be legal to drive until the part is replaced.

Catalytic converter theft prevention

AAA Texas offers the following tips to prevent catalytic converter theft:

  • When possible, park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances.
  • If you have a garage at your house, park your car inside and keep the garage door shut.
  • If you own a high clearance vehicle like a truck or SUV, store it in a secure location.
  • Have the catalytic converter welded to your car’s frame, which may make it harder to steal.
  • Look into buying a converter-protection device that has been developed for the Prius and other vehicles targeted by thieves.
  • Consider engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter – this may help alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen and make it easier to find the owner.
  • Security devices, such as locks, are available that attach to the converter, making it harder to steal.
  • Calibrate your car’s alarm to go off when it detects vibration.
  • Carry a good insurance policy. Most insurance companies cover replacement costs if the vehicle owner has the optional comprehensive coverage, which covers damage to a vehicle not caused by a crash.

Stephanie Whitfield on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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