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Caught on camera: Police say same man continues to steal catalytic converters in Houston

Houston police say Byron Phillips, 49, has been caught on camera twice stealing catalytic converters off cars.

HOUSTON — Catalytic converter thefts are on the rise. A new video shows one suspect who police said has been stealing converters off cars since 2019. He served time in jail, but police said that hasn't stopped him and now they're asking for help finding him.

Houston police said 49-year-old Byron Phillips has twice been caught on camera stealing catalytic converters off cars.

Phillips has two felony warrants out for his arrest, according to police and he’s out on bond in another arrest. They also said he served nine months in jail in 2019 for committing the same crime.

“You can actually see him, he’s got the catalytic converter in his hand and he’s putting it in the car window," Sgt. Jesse Fite said while watching one of the videos.

“It’s good enough video that we can recognize him by face," Fite said.

Police said Phillips was released on bond, but since then, he’s been caught on video committing the same crime again.

“Once you start doing something like that, it kind of seems what you stick with," Fite said.

Fite said catalytic converter thefts are on the rise.

“They’re very valuable based upon the value of the precious metals inside," Fite said.

In fact, there were 329 thefts in February of 2021. That’s almost the amount of the entire year of 2019, which had 375 thefts.

But Fite believes the number is even higher.

“What I can tell you is the number of cases we have do not come close to the numbers of catalytic converters being sold on a daily and weekly basis in the city of Houston," Fite said.

In the meantime, he said to take care of your car.

Park it in the garage, but if you can’t, paint your catalytic converter. Spray paint your entire catalytic converter, end to end, with bright, high-temperature paint. It will cost around $6 but will make your stolen part much harder to sell.

The city of Houston is working to implement a new rule that will require metal recyclers to make sellers show them a receipt along with information, like the VIN number on the vehicle where that catalytic converter came from.

This rule can be implemented any day, as soon as the Chief of Police signs it.