Investigators in the Houston Police Department Auto Theft Division are warning motorists to be aware of a rising national crime that has also hit Houston: catalytic converter thefts.

Thefts of the converters in the city so far in 2021 have increased by 300% compared to the same time period last year.  The converters contain precious metals and can be stolen from a vehicle in less than two minutes.

While any vehicle with a catalytic converter is susceptible, there are six models of vehicles most often targeted:

  • Toyota Tundra
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Ford F-250
  • Honda Element & CRV

Auto Theft Division Sergeant Tracy Hicks says there is no favored time for the thieves to target the vehicles.  “Thefts are happening day and night, but most seem to happen during the day in crowded parking lots with lots of noise to cover up the noise of removal of the converters,” said Sergeant Hicks.

Victims are shocked when told the cost of replacing a stolen converter.  Repairs can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 for some vehicles, some of which have as many as four catalytic converters.  Due to the rise in converter thefts across the country, back order on these parts can be more than three months.

Residents are urged to follow some prevention tips to help lessen chances of becoming the next in a long line of property crime victims.

  • Park in well lighted areas
  • Use your garage
  • Etching your VIN or license plate into your converters
  • Bright high temp paint (lets police know converter has been marked)
  • Install a skid plate or large cover to the bottom of your vehicle
  • Upgrade car alarms to activate when the vehicle is jacked up on one side
  • Aftermarket products like straps or wire cages that make it much more difficult for your converter to be cut off

Sergeant Hicks says vehicle owners can follow three steps to protect themselves:  Etch it – Paint it – Cover it.

Watch Sergeant Hicks discuss and demonstrate some of these tips on the HPD YouTube channel at

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