Houston - A Houston Fire Department building was recently targeted by thieves stealing catalytic converters.
In an exclusive report, FOX 26 discovered 36 catalytic converters were stolen from vehicles outside the HFD building located along the 6900 block of Perimeter Park.
"What they’re doing is taking these things to the metal recyclers and getting cash for them," said HPD Sergeant Tracy Hicks.
According to Houston police, thieves are stealing catalytic converters from cars more and more nationwide.
"The thefts of these parts is up over 300% compared to last year," said Hicks.
Auto shops are also noticing the new trend. Ken Slataper, manager at First Choice Collision, says they’re having more customers in need of catalytic converters.
"We have two vehicles in right now with the same situation," said Slataper. "We get them in weekly."
Replacement catalytic converters are expensive and can take weeks to replace. Pandemic related shipping delays have been causing issues with replacement car parts across the country.
All 36 stolen catalytic converters taken from the HFD parking lot were city owned Toyotas. We’re told HPD is reviewing surveillance video from the scene.
"Between April 23, 2021, and April 26, 2021, the catalytic converters of 36 Toyota Prius vehicles belonging to the City of Houston were stolen from a storage facility located at 6903 Perimeter Park," said Marchelle Cain, Chief of Staff from Houston’s Fleet Management Department. "Each of the vehicles ranged in model year from 2005 to 2009. All affected vehicles had achieved end of useful life status, had been removed from active service, and were being prepared for salvage. Repair of the vehicles is not cost effective and will not be pursued."
According to HPD, any vehicle can be targeted for this crime. However, some cars are targeted more than others. We’re told thieves most frequently target catalytic converters from the Toyota Tundra, Toyota Prius, Toyota Tacoma, Ford F-250, Honda Element & CRV.
Repairs can cost between $3,000- $10,000 for some cars with four catalytic converters.
Houston PD provided the theft prevention tips below.
- Park in well lighted areas
- Use your garage
- Etching your VIN or license plate into your converters
- Bright high temp paint (lets police know converter has been marked)
- Install a skid plate or large cover to the bottom of your vehicle
- Upgrade car alarms to activate when the vehicle is jacked up on one side
- Aftermarket products like straps or wire cages that make it much more difficult for your converter to be cut off