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These cars are targeted by catalytic converter theft, Fort Worth police say

Roy Bruner said he gets about 20 to 30 calls a week to replace catalytic converters stolen from his workshop on the north side.

“I had a Prius, put a new converter in it on a Thursday or Friday, and the following Monday it came in and they stole it again,” Bruner said.

The number of catalytic converter thefts nearly quadrupled nationwide between December 2019 and December 2020, according to a March 2021 report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. In Fort Worth, there were 1,398 catalytic converters in the first nine months of 2021, according to a report from the Fort Worth Police Department. This is less than the national averages for 2019 and 2020.

The West Division, which includes the area south of Interstate 30 and west of Henderson Street, recorded the highest number of thefts with 350. The North West Division, north of White Settlement Road, had them. the least with 173.

Erik Lavigne, a Fort Worth Police Department detective, told City Council last week that educating the public about the most important targets for cars could help prevent theft. He mentioned the Toyota Tundra, Toyota Prius, Honda Element and Ford F-250 as some of the car models targeted by thieves. Trucks with high clearance are an easy target as thieves can crawl under the vehicle and cut the converter without having to lift it off the ground.

The Texas legislature passed a bill in July making it a crime to sell a catalytic converter without proof of your vehicle. There are two crimes related to the theft of a catalytic converter: acting as an unauthorized metal recycler and attempting to purchase “regulated metals” from unauthorized dealers.

These rules are meant to crack down on stores that buy stolen parts, Lavigne said, but there is no law allowing police to arrest or arrest someone for possession of a stolen catalytic converter. District 4 council member Cary Moon pitched the idea of ​​a city ordinance that would fine people with a catalytic converter that is not tied to their car.

Catalytic converters help reduce pollution by cleaning engine exhaust gases. Their value comes from the precious metals they contain, said Jesse Caldera, general manager of Dos Amigos Pull N Save Auto Parts in Fort Worth. Prius catalytic converters can be worth up to $ 1,200 each because they contain higher amounts of precious metals like rhodium and platinum.

The thieves sell to buyers who take the converters to a smelter that can separate the converter and separate the precious metals, Caldera said. An ounce of platinum is worth just over $ 1,000 according to Bloomberg.

Thieves can remove a catalytic converter in as little as a minute using a power saw, Deputy Chief Greg Weathers told City Council. He said the only way to trace a stolen catalytic converter is to match the coupe to the car.

One of Mary Ayala’s customers at Stars Muffler Shop in Fort Worth had her box truck catalytic converter stolen three times, she said. The store helped him weld a metal bar down to prevent future thefts.

“We haven’t seen him for that since,” Ayala said.

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