City of Houston trying to make it tougher for catalytic converter thieves to make money

Many see it as a community-wide plague that reached a tragic peak with the murder of Harris Co. Deputy Sergeant Darren Almendarez, shot and killed while confronting thieves attempting to rip off his truck's catalytic converter in a grocery store parking lot.

"People have lost their lives with people taking these catalytic converters," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "There's no question the theft of catalytic converters is leading to other violent crimes."

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Contending with a 123 percent, year-over-year increase in catalytic converter thefts, Turner and Houston City Council moved, via ordinance, to further criminalize unauthorized possession and re-sale of the devices designed to reduce pollution.

"People need to know," said Turner. "You take them you are going to pay a price for it."

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It is a warning Houston thieves seeking the precious metals within the converters ignored 3,188 times in the first three months of this year alone.

While Council Member Abbie Kamin emphasized the need for prevention others like Council Member Amy Peck focused on prosecution.

"We need those charges to stick when HPD catches people doing this," said Peck

"Etching, painting all of those are actually recommended by HPD and the simplest of those parking in a lit area," advised Kamin.

Turner says with the new ordinance anybody caught in possession of one or more catalytic converters without proof of ownership will face a separate misdemeanor charge for each device seized.