WACO, TX (KWTX) – A new bill in the Texas legislature hopes to combat the theft of catalytic converters by increasing the penalties for the crime.
In recent years, thieves have stolen catalytic converters for their precious metals, such as platinum.
If passed, Senate Bill 224 would make converter theft a felony in Texas, and prosecutors could treat it as an organized crime.
“It gives prosecutors more flexibility, so hopefully they can really throw the book at somebody,” said Sen. Carol Alvarado, who sponsored the bill.
The goal of the law is to ultimately reduce the number of catalytic converter thefts across the state.
Waco saw 329 catalytic converter thefts in 2021. The next year in 2022, 345 thefts were registered, which is an increase of 5%. According to Waco Police Department, 47 cases of theft have been reported in the city so far.
Texas Star Tire & Auto Repair in Waco has seen these numbers firsthand. This year, crews typically see about 15 customers a month who come in to replace their catalytic converters.
“Catalytic converter theft is very common in Central Texas,” said repairman Scott Kleczka.
Back in September, cameras caught someone in the station parking lot stealing KWTX engineer Brady Bass’ catalytic converter.
“When I replaced it, the dealer told me there was a steel plate they could put under the truck that wouldn’t make it impossible to get it,” Bass said. “But it will take more time.”
Senator Alvarado’s bill is named after Harris County Rep. Darren Almendarez, who was shot and killed while on duty.
“He interrupted three men who were trying to steal his catalytic converter and was tragically shot and killed,” Senator Alvarado said.
Under SB 242, if someone has more than one catalytic converter in their possession and they can’t prove ownership, law enforcement can take immediate action.
“Apparently there’s a market for them, so they have to stop people buying them,” Bass said.
Texas Star Tire & Auto Repair offers the following tips for preventing catalytic converter theft:
- Look around you
- Try to park in a garage or somewhere with light
- Invest in a device like the CatClamp that serves as a wire cage around the catalytic converter
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