Thieves Caught Hoarding $1 Million Worth of Catalytic Converters

The Texas crime ring was storing the essential and pricey car components in seven locations around the city of Houston.

Michael SimariCar and Driver
  • Houston, Texas, police recovered a huge cache of stolen catalytic converters in a series of raids last week.
  • Investigators said they seized 477 catalytic converters from one location alone, and 2800 O2 sensors, but they believe nearly $12 million in total thefts over time could be tracked to this organized operation.
  • According to remarks from a Harris County sergeant, a main target of thefts in the area is the Toyota Tundra.

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    Catalytic converter thefts are rampant nationwide and a huge problem in Houston, where police have received reports of more than 6000 thefts in the first six months of 2022. There may be a dip in the action there, though, since local police recovered a large cache of stolen converters—including more than 400 in one house—along with 2800 oxygen sensors, in a series of raids last week and arrested a group of people allegedly responsible for the thefts. The converters were stored in seven locations in the Houston area and, according to TV station KHOU, were being shipped to buyers out of state. On top of the stolen parts, investigators found a stolen Dodge Challenger Hellcat at one of the locations.

    stolen catalytic converters
    KHOU TV/ YouTube

    KHOU reported that the thefts were conducted by a well-orchestrated crime organization operating on social media, advertising the prices for converters on specific car models to would-be thieves. "Cutters," or thieves who do the work of getting under cars and removing converters, would drop off between two and 10 converters for sale at a time, according to the news reports.

    Investigators are estimating the cache of converters to be worth more than $1 million on the street, though they account for nearly $12 million in total thefts over time, according to estimates reported by ABC-13 Houston. "It’s very costly if you get your catalytic converter stolen," Harris County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Jeff Thomas said. "The main target is the Toyota Tundra. You are looking at $1800 to $3000 to get them replaced."

    We recently reported that cars like the Honda Accord or Ford F-series trucks are among the most targeted vehicles, with the Toyota Prius and Camry also making that list. New legislation has been cropping up around the country to combat these thefts, with ideas of stamping catalytic converters with their vehicle identification number (VIN) or making it illegal for shops to purchase converters which are not connected to a vehicle.

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