Catalytic converter thefts on the rise around campus

UTA Police sent out a campus safety advisory email Friday stating car catalytic converter thefts are on the rise, urging people to report any suspicious activity.

The university has also seen multiple catalytic converter thefts in September 2020, according to previous Shorthorn reporting. The thefts aren’t isolated at UTA, said Jay Tillerson, UTA assistant police chief. The problem is being seen across the North Texas region.

A catalytic converter is a required part of the emission system, and the converters contain precious metal inside such as rhodium, platinum and palladium that are sold for high prices.

Once a car is started up with a missing converter, it will make a sound similar to one with a missing muffler, “loud and obnoxious,” Tillerson said.

Ricardo Lopez, general manager of A & R Muffler & Car Care in Arlington, said there’s been a lot of people coming into his shop for catalytic converter replacements.

He’s seen some cases of thefts where the converter and sensors were stolen, while other cases had the fuel lines cut due to how close they were to the converter, Lopez said.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a catalytic converter replacement would cost around $230 to $250, but now they cost around $325 to $395 because of the rise in prices of metals during the pandemic, he said.

“And it’s not necessarily I'm raising up my labor, it’s just the product is going up,” he said.

He said car alarms won’t go off for catalytic converter thefts since they're designed for interior break-ins.

But there are steps people can take to trace their converters such as painting it a different color or engraving a number into it, Tillerson said.

People should have situational awareness if they want to prevent thefts, Tillerson said. If there is a suspicious person underneath or around a vehicle, then authorities should be notified.

“That's really what this boils down to: see something, say something,” he said.

UTA Police has increased patrols at the parking lots around campus and reviewed surveillance videos for suspicious activities.

To report a criminal incident or emergency on campus, call (817)-272-3003. For nonemergency reports or requests, call (817)-272-3381.


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