Houston family-owned business says thieves stole catalytic converters from delivery trucks for fourth time

A local business in north Houston says thieves have stolen the catalytic converter off their delivery trucks for the fourth time in the last year. 

According to Kevin Astala, the owner of Ace Office Furniture, his family-owned business has repeatedly fallen victim to car break-ins and thefts since moving to their new location on the 15000 block of Blue Ash Drive in north Houston over a year ago. Overnight, Astala says it happened again.

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"I don’t think it could take longer than five minutes to do it. They cut where we have to get new oxygen sensors too, which are expensive. We can't drive this vehicle. Some people will just leave them off, but you heard how loud it was, and it’s not safe for the environment," Astala said. 

Each theft costs the business thousands of dollars to repair, it's extra money they just don't have to spare. 

"We’ve also had a vehicle stolen from us. It’s gone, we don’t know where it’s at now. Being a family business, this really hurts us. It’s going to cost thousands of dollars to replace this thing and we lost the delivery we were supposed to do today as well," Astala said.  

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Astala says the business has already set up multiple extra security measures to deter thieves from coming near their fleet of four trucks. But even with extra surveillance, so far, nothing seems to be enough. 

"If you can see over here, we have these big park benches. We actually slide these under with our forklift. We try to prevent people from getting under there and actually stealing the vehicle itself because you couldn’t run over the park benches. We’ve done everything we can. We’ve installed motion lights and cameras. I wish they’d make these vehicles so they couldn’t be stolen and people aren’t getting hurt, not only financially but physically," Astala said.  

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City officials estimate catalytic converter thefts have gone up about 123% year to year. Last last week, Houston City Council passed an ordinance that makes it harder to resell catalytic converters, by requiring more detailed information from sellers.

Ace Office Furniture said they say they’ve filed a report with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and are hoping authorities can catch the person responsible.