After having his Toyota Tacoma catalytic converter stolen several times, Aldo Caballero, based in Houston TX decided to be innovative in cushioning himself from the thousands of dollars required to replace the vital device
According to ABC13, catalytic convertor thefts are rising meteorically. Reported cases for 2018, 2019, and 2020 have been 85, 375, and 1793 respectively painting a grim future for car owners in Houston TX. The numbers for 2021 are jaw-dropping as 2207 incidents have been reported to the police department in the first half of the year.
One of the infamous theft incidents was reported by La Porte car dealership after two shadowy figures were caught on camera stealing twenty catalytic convertors at 3:00 AM. Not even a $5,000 reward for any leads from the public has borne any fruits and the business has been brought to its knees as the stocks can not be sold in their damaged conditions which take weeks and thousands of dollars to be repaired.
Available options for thwarting catalytic converters burglaries.
- Metal cages
After being hit twice, Caballero and a team of associates launched the Texas Metal Benders program. They have an objective to develop a metal cage for deterring catalytic convertors burglars. The cage is being fitted at a very low cost which is economical compared to the risk of theft.
- Steel cables and wire cages
The Houston Police Department is also advising car owners in Houston to consider installing steel cables and wire cages on their vehicles underframes to shield the catalytic convertor. The process is inexpensive, and the service can be offered at an auto garage for an average cost of $150.
- Metal plates
The HPD is also advocating for $150 metal plates to protect the vital part. The metal plate is difficult to breach as it is bolted to the bottom of the vehicle. It is a long-lasting solution giving car owners the much-needed peace of mind.
- Catalytic convertor marking
Tracy Hicks from the HPD is advising car owners to engrave the VIN or the vehicle registration marks to the catalytic converter for swift investigation and tracking in the event of a theft. Mike Poutous of Poutous Auto Repair is further urging all motorists to have the details inscribed on the catalytic converters at an average fee of $15.
Call to action
The preventive strategies should be undertaken with urgency not only to curb and thwart the growing crime wave but also to protect car owners from the financial predicament of paying thousands of dollars out of pocket to replace the stolen catalytic converters.
Moreover, the replacement process is not a walk in the park as the waiting list is long because of the rampant cases of theft that have taken place in the recent past.
A change of law is in the offing
The State of Texas is enacting a new law to protect car owners, in the proposal, scrap metal dealers and anyone else will be prohibited from selling or buying stolen converters. The current lacuna is allowing burglars to walk free from police custody as this kind of theft is not deemed as a priority felony despite its financial implication to the victims.